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Art Type
Media / Materials
Year Completed
Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Gift of John and Mary Pappajohn, 2013.1
Latitude & Longitude
41.585477, -93.634695
Location Description
Along Grand Avenue; between 13th and 15th Streets

Since 1984 Louise Bourgeois has been developing a body of work with the spider as protagonist.

For the artist, whose work has explored themes of childhood memory and loss, the spider carries associations of a maternal figure. Indeed, Bourgeois’ “Spider” series relates to her own mother who died when the artist was twenty-one. The allusion to her mother as a weaver refers to the Bourgeois family’s tapestry restoration business, in which her mother was the chief seamstress.

From drawings to large-scale installations, Bourgeois’ spiders appear as looming and powerful protectresses, yet are nurturing, delicate, and vulnerable.


The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. My family was in the business of tapestry restoration, and my mother was in charge of the workshop. Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.

Louise Bourgeois

Find other public artwork: Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation

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