Most of you know me as an installation artist focusing on social justice and immigration issues. However hidden in my flat files are bits and pieces of my original passions: entomology, and drawing. Growing up in rural South Jersey I was intrigued by the overwhelming number of insect species which flew, jumped, crept and crawled thru the fields and forests. A cousin who taught biology helped me create my first insect collection. Nested in cigar boxes and hidden from the curious hands of my siblings were beetles and bees, crickets and grasshoppers, cabbage butterflies, swallowtails, skippers and most treasured; the large moths: lunas, cecropia and polyphemus. The latter could be found in the morning, clinging to the tree trunks at the edge of the forest where they had retreated when the house lights were turned off at night.
The collecting, mounting and archiving, taught me not only how to preserve these most delicate of creatures but also data collection and processing skills which inform my art practice to this day. I did not become an entomologist (no scholarship money for women back then) but I accepted plan B and went to at school. All those detailed insect drawings helped. But the insects still fascinate me, and I have been fortunate to receive funding from the Geraldine R Dodge Foundation and Earthwatch to visit/work with scientists in the neo tropical rain forests of Costa Rica on several occasions.
Over the next month I will be sharing the contents of my flat files with you weekly as I refer to their contents while working on PARALLEL MIGRATIONS XXI. Parallel Migrations is a conceptual print installation opening this fall at The Print Center of NJ.
The beetle above was a gift over forty years ago from my cousin. On the right is my painting of Monarch butterfly remains on a faux painting of a spreading board.
Below left is the carcass (retrieved from the New Jersey shoreline) of a Monarch butterfly and my latest painted version. Both are references for the drypoints I will be creating for the exhibition.
Coming next: the process and paintings for the prints.