Friday, August 26, 2011

more paper bat photos

A few pictures of my paper hibernaculum under construction.

And a close-up of some shapes that have captured interesting images:

These bats were made from a falling-apart edition of Rev. John George Wood's The Uncivilized Races, or, a Natural History of Man, a mid-19th century tome about indigenous peoples around the world. It almost deserves its own post, but I'll describe it briefly here. It has pretty much everything you'd expect of a book its age - very period descriptions of the customs, clothing, diets, etc. of a range of populations from the West Indies to Africa to Mongolia. The book is pretty much entirely comprised of descriptions, based on his own travels and also accounts from other Europeans, without any kind of hard scientific content. In some ways it reads much more like a travelogue than what I would consider a scientific text. Surprisingly it's a bit less patronizing and "OOOH look at the natives" gawky than I expected it might be, but obviously, the offensive title of the book and the mere fact that these people are basically being observed as anthropological studies of "lesser" humans says a lot about how some Europeans used to look at the world. (Namely, in a very Euro-centric way.) Many of the illustrations of objects such as pottery, helmets, and weapons are labeled as being from the author's personal collection, which certainly enforces the idea of the subjects of the book as scientific curiosities. 
I have other books I'll be using as well - books about the native trees of Canada, scientific journals, and an introductory text to Forestry (I hadn't realized this, but forestry is much more about how to manage forests for the economic benefit of humans and much less about how to manage forests as a habitat for wildlife). More photos as the installation progresses.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Paper bats

Just a quick update on the paper hibernaculum project - my bats came back today from Laser Lab Studio in Bloomfield and they look terrific. I'm really excited to start putting them all together to make the piece... and anyone who saw my locust installation knows I'm almost crying with joy over the time this will save me. Time I can spend constructing and eventually installing the piece, instead of cutting out a zillion paper shapes and giving myself carpal tunnel in the process. Hooray for technology!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Reflections: Homage to Dunkard Creek

Those of you who are poring over every detail of this blog (I know you're out there) may have noticed an as-yet-unspoken-of upcoming show sitting in my queue on the left for a few weeks now. I've finally finished my contribution to this project and wanted to share my efforts.

The show, entitled Reflections: Homage to Dunkard Creek, is a collaborative, traveling show documenting all the species of river life in Dunkard Creek, West Virginia that died off during a massive toxic algae bloom in 2009. The bloom was the result of chemical mine waste flowing into the river, already at a low level from industrial water withdrawals, and it was toxic enough and widespread enough to suffocate and kill most of the life within the creek. Dunkard Creek flows into the Monongahela River, a source of drinking water for many people in the region, and thusly eventually into the Ohio and, eventually eventually, the Gulf of Mexico.

Artists selected for this project were given a species and a panel, and asked to create a piece of art inspired by (but not necessarily representing) that species. People were assigned everything from herons to minnows to freshwater copepods. Get excited, folks, because I got the Round Pigtoe Mussel* (known by his scientific friends as Pleuroblema sintoxia). Here's my collage, constructed from engravings I made.

The show opens in Morgantown, West Virginia on September 9th, and will be traveling to locations throughout the Monongahela Watershed in 2012 (details over on the left - updated as I hear more). You can also read more about the creek and see what some of the other artists have submitted at the website created by the show's curator, Ann Payne. You may even live close enough to get to one of the shows in person!

*I am excited. Be honest, would you expect anything else from someone who voluntarily draws dead bugs?