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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

LITERATURE OF THE BIRDS

Classic literature is still something that hangs in the air like a song.

G.K. Chesterton


The covers of all the books that will hang as "literatura de cordel" in the library of the birds and insects are pochoir prints.  The prints of leaves will not blend into the drawing of the owls when they are attached to it,  but they will have a relationship by virtue of their subject matter.  Leaves are either applied printed directly on to some books while others are cut and pasted on the covers.  

Each of the books contains a quote appropriate to the species featured - in human language. The main text is either in musical notations by F. Schuyler Mathews (published in 1904 and still referred to today) or language found in field guides and written in the Roman alphabet. 



OWL ANTHOLOGY:
Five owls are featured in the anthology.  All are drawn with micron pens and and photocopied.
The eyes of four of the birds are hand colored. The Barred Owl, which has dark eyes, has a bit of highlighting to its feathers,  also done with color pencil.


WARBLER:
Four warblers and their songs are featured in this book.  All are depicted in watercolor and color pencil then  reproduced with high quality inkjet prints and tipped in.





WREN:
Three wrens and their songs are depicted in watercolor with some color pencil and metallic gold acrylic in the background.  They are reproduced with high quality inkjet and tipped onto the pages.
This book is dedicated to Hetsy (Henrietta) Slote.





THRUSH:
In a pochoir print done with watercolor and metallic acrylic, a Hermit Thrush sings to a
Wood Thrush.  This illustration is an original print, not a reproduction.





SONG SPARROW:
This book contains a single species of sparrow - the Song Sparrow.  It is in tribute to Margaret Morse Nice whose study of the bird was a great contribution to ornithology.
The illustration is an original pochoir done with watercolor.  The inside of the cover is marbleized paper and is a reference to the water of the Olentangy River which flowed by Mrs. Nice's property in Columbus, Ohio.  The photograph behind the sparrow was taken of trees where she did her work next to the river. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

THE LIFE OF BIRDS AND INSECTS: LITERATURE

O you virtuous owle, 
The wise Minerva's only fowle.
                        
Sir Philip Sidney


The owl, a symbol of wisdom and erudition, is featured as a bird (a Barred Owl) and as a butterfly in a drawing to be installed inside a wall cabinet / library.  It will be obscured in its final state by books attached to the drawing.  There will be five books "written" by different species of birds and five books written by different species of insects.  The text will, indeed, be in their own languages.

Viewers will be able to open the doors of the cabinet and remove the books for reading.  The concept is based on "literatura de cordel," a tradition in northeastern Brazil where books of poetry, songs and stories are hung on strings for sale in marketplaces and at festivals.  These books, with original woodcut covers, are affordable and popular.  They follow a long tradition of chapbook and pamphlet printing in the 18th and 19th centuries.




Sunday, June 29, 2014

DINNERWARE OF THE BIRDS AND INSECTS

 The number of guests at dinner should not be less than the number of the Graces nor exceed that of the Muses, i.e., it should begin with three and stop at nine.

Marcus Terentius Varro




At the same time that I was pondering designing four dinner plates for the Birds and Insects project, I was also reading Virgil's Georgics as research for a book dealing with the observation of bees.  The Georgics is divided into four chapters.  It became clear that the two projects could be combined.

Reading the Georgics was a wonderful adventure.  It included forming a very small reading group with another avid reader/artist, Ruth Bardenstein, and searching for a translation which suited us.  After many attempts we settled on the recent, remarkable translation by the poet David Ferry. 

Each of the four books is devoted to a different aspect of agriculture and explores its glories and its terrors.  In the first book Virgil looks at seeds and planting, weather and celestial indicators, - how beautiful as well as how fickle the world is.  Everything worked so hard to attain can be ruined in a minute.  In the second book he speaks of trees and vines with emphasis on grapes and wine.  The third book is the most alarming with its love of livestock and animals in general, followed by the horrors of plagues that kill them and ruin the lives of the people who depend on them.  The final book deals with the lives of bees and the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, overlapping with the story of Aristaeus
and the eventual discovery of bugonia, an ancient belief in the creation of bees in rotting animal flesh.

In each book the dark side includes a snake.  

Using other reference material that clarified actual species of birds and plants, I selected images that were specific to the books.  The project was not an attempt to illustrate the Georgics;  rather it was used as inspiration for the images.  On each plate there is a snake which in three cases is headless and looks like a ribbon so it would be less frightening to the diner.