Monday, August 1, 2016

MARGARET MORSE NICE


Research is a passion with me; it drives me; it is my relentless master.

Margaret Morse Nice














In selecting naturalists for my mail art project there is usually something that appeals to me and governs my choice.  In this case my initial inspiration came from location.  It was startling to find that the ornithologist, Margaret Morse Nice, had lived and done her most famous work in Columbus, Ohio - very near my parents home but on the opposite side of the Olentangy river.  Ms. Nice had moved away years before they arrived but it was still amazing to think that my mother and father may have heard the songs of relatives of the Song Sparrows she studied for 8 years.  Other ornithologists were dismissive about her choice of species of bird to study as too common, but her intense observation brought to light many new concepts and the study as a whole was the most intensive behavioral observation for a single species at that time.

Ornithology had always been a "man's field" where women were not allowed to participate.  Ms. Nice opened that door.

My brother, John Eufinger, scouted out the place where she lived with her husband who worked for Ohio State University, and their four daughters.  The house still exists but whatever feeling of grace it had is lost as it is now occupied by cheerful male students who decorate the walls with posters about beer.
The area where she did her research on song sparrows, however, probably remains quite the same as it is on a floodplain where no building can take place.





Sunday, July 10, 2016

ARCHITECTURE FOR THE BIRDS AND INSECTS

Architecture is inhabited sculpture.

Constantin Brancusi

 










Termite mounds and the underground nests of leaf cutter ants are long lasting. The structures of social insects may last a season or a few years but most of the nests and habitations of birds and insects are ephemeral.  So much labor on their part, carving out spaces in the earth or assembling what is on hand.




Wednesday, May 4, 2016

CURRENCY OF THE BIRDS AND INSECTS


In nature's economy the currency is not money, it is life.

Vandana Shira











For this project 16 bills have been designed for financing the Lives of Birds and Insects. To make it more interesting, denominations on the bills are eccentric and harbor a secret perhaps not immediately recognizable kind of recreational math. The arrangement of the numbers is a magic square. Each number is used once.  When columns are added up vertically, horizontally and diagonally they all will be the same total.  34.







Wednesday, January 20, 2016

LITERATURE OF THE INSECTS


A different language is a different vision of life.

Federico Fellini



The literature of the insects follows the same format as the literature of the birds. All the covers of the books have images of leaves so they can conceal themselves in the shrubs and trees.  Rather than have the books removed from their cabinet, a box containing an additional set of copies for interested readers is available.


EUROPEAN HORNET and
CLEARWING HORNET MOTH

This book can be viewed starting from either the front cover or the back cover. The first half of the book features the European hornet.  If approached from the back, the insect addressed is the hornet's mimic, a clearwing moth.  At the center of the book are oscillograms of their voices, which are as similar as the insects' appearance.  Their story is a duet.

The drawings of the insects are done in watercolor and color pencil, reproduced in high quality ink jet using acid free inks and acid free paper.


WATER BOATMAN

The story of the tiny water boatman is quite surprising.  For its body size, it is considered the loudest animal on earth.  
Its image is done in pochoir.  Glitter glue highlights float on the water.


BEES

Since ancient times, bees are among the most common insects to appear in art, poetry, stories and scientific pursuits.  They have had a huge impact on human life because of their activities as pollinators and creators of honey and wax.  

The image of the bee was drawn in ink, reproduced, then highlighted with iridescent acrylic.  The rose, picked in the garden of Stephanie Ruseckas, was drawn with watercolor and color pencil and reproduced in high quality ink jet using acid free inks and paper.

CRICKET

Crickets appear in early Asian poetry and prose and continue to be housed there as pets in tiny cages.  They figure in our myths and legends and their voice is a common part of summer evening songs.

The image of the cricket was done in pochoir on a decorative sheet of paper, printed with metallic gold ink.  


CICADA

The cicada has long been of interest as a symbol of immortality or rebirth.  They are a popular decorative image in many cultures.

The decorative papers printed in gold ink suggest the loud, familiar call of the cicada at the end of summer.  The image of the insect was drawn in watercolor and color pencil, reproduced in high quality ink jet prints, cut out and collaged into the center of the book.




Monday, January 11, 2016

LIBRARY OF THE BIRDS AND INSECTS

Your library is your paradise.

Desiderius Erasmus




This library has no shelves.  Its contents are hung on strings tied to branches in shrubs and trees where they are made available to the birds and the insects.  The books are camouflaged, blending in among the leaves.  Inside, their contents tell stories and poems and songs, written in languages yet to be translated by humans. We can guess at the meanings but there is, as yet, no Rosetta stone for them so they remain essentially a private literature.
x

Sunday, June 21, 2015

THE LIFE OF BIRDS AND INSECTS: FOOD


The food here is terrible,
and the portions are too small.

Woody Allen



The diets of  both birds and insects are varied and can be remarkably specific. Their preferences have great impact on the ecosystems where they live.  Their lives in turn are dependent on the qualities of the land they inhabit.

In my Life series I have made it simpler for them by creating a pantry for their use.  The container for this storage unit is a clock case collaged with famous art work depicting birds and insects.  I have used other clock cases as temples so this one could also be considered the Temple of Food.

Inside there are bottles and cans, similarly collaged, which contain dried seeds for future dinners or as reserves for times of famine.  How do the birds survive in Michigan in the winter when the temperatures are so cold and everything seems covered with ice?  They amaze me.





Sunday, March 22, 2015

GAME BOARD

I think it's wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly.

Steven Wright



Loosely based on pages from the Lindesfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells, the Game Board for the Life of Birds and Insects project was not designed to be played but rather to look like it could be played.  Now that it exists, Korinthia Klein and her 3 game playing children have been working on ideas and rules for actually using it.  I believe it is the reverse of how most games have been designed.

St. Cuthbert's Duck (an Eider Duck) resides in the center of the board.
Cuthbert lived in the north of England in the Farne Islands.  He was a Prior and eventually a Bishop but his heart was that of an Anchorite.  He chose to live on Inner Farne Island which no one before him had successfully inhabited.  His close association with, and love for, the waterfowl of the region led him to make laws in 676 protecting the nesting birds.  This might well make him the first conservationist.

Soon after Cuthbert's death the monks created the Lindesfarne Gospels in his honor.