The Institute of Morphoid Research by Jennifer Akkermans ACAD PDF  | Print |  E-mail

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Morphoids are unusual creatures, identified by the distinct peeling quality of their skin. The first of the Morphoids was discovered by Jennifer Akkermans in 2010, in Fish Creek Park, Calgary, Alberta. The first Morphoid discovered, Sepal, was seen scurrying out of sight under a bush.  Akkermans says, “Sepal has very effective camouflage - at first, all I saw was the movement. When I looked, I couldn’t make out exactly what was moving, and then I saw it.  I had never seen anything like it.” Sepal is a creature of an unusual color, texture, and shape, and doesn’t have any sort of a face- no obvious eyes, nose or mouth.  It also seems to move very quickly, but slyly, and not when it feels it is being watched. 

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 The Morphoid Series: Sepal (2010). In Nature. Polyester, thread. 5” x 18” x 18

It seemed that once Akkermans had discovered the first Morphoid, there were many more to be revealed.  Many more Morphoids, of all shapes and sizes, have been carefully observed and photographed both in their natural environments and in the laboratory since 2010.  They are unlike any animals seen before, in that the Morphoids have a few very distinct defining characteristics:

1) They are ambiguous creatures, and often seem to imitate other animals;

2) They are often very vibrantly colored

3) All have an unusual peeling skin texture on part, if not all of their bodies; and

4) They show no obvious facial features or genitalia. 

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The Morphoid Series: Nudibranch​ia (2010). Polyester, thread. 25" x 23" x 24"

As a result of these discoveries, Akkermans founded the Institute of Morphoid Research.  The Institute is dedicated to the study and preservation of the creatures falling within what is believed to be a new phylum, Morphopodia. Currently, the Institute is primarily studying their behavior- how they interact with each other, human beings and their own environments.  Over time, the IMR plans to study the Morphoids in greater detail, through research- direct observation, drawings, diagrams, video, anatomical studies, and dissections. The IMR is also developing informational resources for the public, including brochures on the Institute and it’s subjects, as well as a comprehensive website. For more information, please visit the IMR at www.InstituteOfMorphoidResearch.com

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About my Process: 

Originally, I fell in love with polyester.  I use the material for reasons remarkably similar to why my fellow graduates use natural fibres- their specific properties.  I can manipulate polyester, coaxing it to melt into beautiful patterns and interesting textures.  It is versatile for me, creating an unusual and unfamiliar type of material.  Soft sculpture has been the most appropriate and effective way to create the Morphoids, which need to have the appearance of containing flesh and guts.  A lot depends on imagination, but the soft sculpture forms insinuate that sort of inventiveness, as we tend to compare them to a child’s stuffed animals (which are often based on real animals).

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My work was definitely conceived in a fibre context, and keeps that influence, although my practice is moving into other realms.  While fibre is the basis of my practice, I now find myself remediating it, working primarily in a digital format, through animation, video (including performance), and content for the Institute of Morphoid Research website.  I am focusing on the narrative around the Morphoids, and while I do make physical work, I filter it through this specific lens, which enables me to control and influence perception of the information I give out.  While I definitely appreciate my fibre roots, (and the great community that gathers around it), I feel that I should not limit myself to one specific medium, and use whatever medium is appropriate.  I really think that this could be the way of the future- combining old and new, tradition and innovation, and being open to what comes out of it.

  Toe View more images and learn about Jennifer Akkermans visit her websites




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