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The six-legged muse



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Inspired by Insects
E. Ashley Rooney
Foreword by Joan Danziger
Introduction by Barrett Anthony Klein
4880 Lower Valley Road Atglen, PA 19310
Copyright © 2017 by E. Ashley Rooney
Library of Congress Control Number: 2017939140
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Other Schier Books by the Author:
e Contemporary Art of Nature: Mammals, E. Ashley Rooney,
Foreword by Donna Dodson, Introduction by Carel P. Brest van Kempen,
ISBN 978-0-7643-4786-3
Green Art: Trees, Leaves, and Roots, E. Ashley Rooney with Margery Goldberg,
ISBN 978-0-7643-4548-7
Painted Sky: 106 Artists of the Rocky Mountain West, E. Ashley Rooney,
Foreword by Rose Fredrick, ISBN 978-0-7643-4961-4
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Bald Eagle Nesting Season, Teena Ruark Gorrow & Craig A. Koppie,
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Fruit in Graphic Art, Michael B. Emery and Irwin Richman,
ISBN 978-0-7643-4489-3
Foreword: Insects in Art ......................... 4
Joan Danziger
Preface: Butterflies, Beetles, Bees, Etc.............. 8
Introduction: The Six-Legged Muse ............... 10
Barrett Anthony Klein
The Artists
Jennifer Angus ......................16
Pen Brady..........................24
Ajay Brainard .......................30
Catherine Chalmers..................34
Kevin Clarke........................36
Vittorio Costantini...................40
Joan Danziger ......................44
Vincent Fink . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48
Wesley Fleming .....................52
Joel Floyd..........................56
Britt Freda .........................60
Elizabeth Goluch ...................66
Michael Haykin .....................70
Jennifer Herwitt ....................74
Barrett Anthony Klein ................78
Karen Klein ........................82
Steven R. Kutcher ...................84
Damond Andrew Kyllo ................88
Mike Libby .........................92
Michael Mangiafico .................98
Christopher Marley .................102
Edouard Martinet ..................106
Monica Aissa Martinez ...............108
Doug Melvin ......................112
Robert Mickelson ..................116
Alex Monroe .......................118
Dale Marie Muller ..................122
Jane Nicholas......................124
Amanda North .....................128
Keith Norval ......................130
Rick Pas ..........................132
Jeanie Pratt .......................136
Thomas C. Ramey ..................142
Joan Stuart Ross ...................148
Elizabeth Whyte Schulze .............150
Emanuel Toffolo ....................154
Andrea V. Uravitch .................158
April Vollmer ......................162
Sayaka Yamamoto ..................166
Acknowledgments ........................... 170
Artists’ Websites and Galler y Representation ...... 171
Barrett Anthony Klein
e history of humans producing insect art is rich, spanning ancient
practices through every movement in modern art history. For some
traditional peoples, insects have served as symbolic totems since
time immemorial.1 Contrast this with contemporary artists who
purposefully follow non-traditional paths when incorporating
insects in their art. Stroll any art or anthropology museum in the
world and take note of the bees, ies, butteries, beetles, and other
insects that scamper and it across the canvas, paper, porcelain,
fabric, marble, and wood. Oen, the depiction is explicit: a stag
beetle watercolor by Albrecht Dürer, insects on owers in a Dutch
still life by Rachel Ruysch, and dragonies of gold and enamel by
René Lalique. It can be more challenging to identify the presence
or idea of an insect in other works: an abstract cricket etching by
Joan Miró, and sound waves emanating from an implied insect in
watercolors by Charles Burcheld. Sometimes the art medium
itself is of insect origin: buttery wing collages by Jean Dubuet,
(moth) silk textiles and paintings, and melted beeswax in all works
of encaustics.2,3 Once you have a search image, nding insects in
the Louvre or in the latest issue of Art in America is not only easy,
it is oen unavoidable. How do such miniscule, distant relatives
make an impact on our material culture?
Before addressing this query, it is worthwhile to briey identify
our subjects. Insects belong to one particularly successful lineage
of animals (phylum Arthropoda: Hexapoda: Insecta). Although
almost entirely absent from marine environments, insects are
crustaceans, having likely diverged from a common ancestor of
blind, aquatic, venomous, centipede-like remipedes.4 Unlike all
other animal lineages, insects walk, burrow, swim, and jump with
six segmented, jointed legs, and chew, suck, bite, and gnaw with
exposed, visible mouthparts. Oen winged adult insects have one
pair of antennae and an uncanny habit of insinuating themselves
in every facet of human culture.5–7
As a brand new undergraduate of entomology at Cornell
University, I was thrilled beyond belief that studying insects
constituted an actual major and professional pursuit. People took
my favorite organisms seriously. It took years before a colleague
revealed to me what should have been obvious. ere is a reason
departments of entomology exist in academia, but not departments
devoted to mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, atworms, or
the study of other animal taxa: understanding how insects operate
brings the researcher closer to knowing how to destroy them. is
is an over-simplication, but it underscores the impact insects can
have on human survival.
is book displays examples of contemporary artists’ insect-
centric works, hinting at the extent to which insects are celebrated
or vilied the world over. Arthropods other than insects also appear
in the works to follow, so insects are in good, albeit phylogenetically
disjointed, company. Although this book is unusual in its approach,
insect-themed art exhibits are not uncommon, and a number of
recent group exhibits* have explored insect themes. Although more
solo-artist, insect-themed exhibits grace galleries and museums
than I could hope to list here, I will mention two. Ilya Kabakov
devoted a series of halls to installations obsessively focused on
house ies.9 One of the artists featured in this book, Jennifer Angus,
fashions entire rooms with geometrically arranged arrays of mounted
insect specimens. Small they may be, but insects have lled many
an art gallery space.
e motivations can be complicated, multi-faceted, and either
unconscious or deliberate. One artist may choose to depict an
insect with hidden symbolism in mind, while another may
spontaneously record an insect without intended meaning or
purpose. Insects evoke emotions, and responses to insects vary
depending on the choice of insect, the context in which it is
presented, and the viewer. Humans may depict insects in art for
several non-mutually exclusive reasons:
Insects (1) are unavoidably
all around us, (2) can have profoundly positive or (3) notoriously
negative eects on our lives, and (4) exhibit physical beauty and
behavior that can inspire an artist’s awe.
Ubiquity: insects are unavoidably all around us
Picture a canvas in which all life’s diversity is illustrated by images
of organisms, each of which represents a distinct evolutionary
group. If space devoted to each organism signies the number of
described species in its group, y-three percent of the canvas
would be covered with the guise of an insect. As a point of comparison,
0.3 percent would be covered with an image of a mammal and 0.6
percent a bird.11 Granted, artists depict more than earthly organisms
in their works, but should life or nature be the subject of choice,
one million described species of insects are underfoot and in-your-
face (or cave, or cupboard…) as obvious models.
If we consider the raw number of individual insects in the
world rather than the number of species, we face a staggering
estimate bandied about of ten quintillion. One million described
species and ten quintillion individual insects are potentially orders
of magnitude o the actual mark, a sign that we are surrounded
and overwhelmed by incalculable multitudes. As you might expect,
this ubiquity of insects aects human culture. A great diversity and
abundance of insects—more visible than most single-celled
organisms, more accessible than denizens of the water, and more
approachable than most vertebrates—could help explain why insects
appear as symbols in many cultures,1 and on present-day postage
stamps, currency, fashion designs, and naturally, in art. Insects
cannot be completely avoided, suppressed, or ignored.
Positive associations
It is easy to identify ways in which insects benet humans. Insects
pollinate much of what we consume. Insects help us solve crimes12
and address some of biology’s most fundamental questions.13 We
look to the presumed harmony and eciency of social insects for
inspiration and utilitarian planning. We eat insects, design technology
to mimic their forms and functions, use them as bioindicators, and
collect their bodily products. Silk, honey, beeswax, and cochineal
are a few of the insect products that have altered human commerce,
health, and creativity, and each is used as an art medium.2 Ten of
the Fiy Animals that Changed the Course of History are insects
and, of these, six are viewed as being benecial.14 Dependence on
and admiration for certain insects seem like ample impetus to
portray insects in art.
* Recent insect-themed group art exhibits: Art.Science.Gallery. (ECLOSION and e Buzz Stops Here, Austin, Texas, 2015 & 2013, respectively),8,3 i.d.e.a. Museum (Jeepers Creepers—Bugs
in Ar t, Mesa, Arizona, 2014), Schloss Sayn (FACETS—Bees, Art and Science, Bendorf, Germany, 2014), University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point (Beyond the Hive, 2014), Augustana College
(Insects Inspire Art, Rock Island, Illinois, 2014), Alice C. Sabatini Art Gallery (UnE arthed, Topeka, Kansas, 2013), Museum Villa Rot (Hunters and Hunted: Insects in Contemporary Art,
Burgrieden, Germany, 2012), Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana (Situation Anophthalmus hitleri, Slovenia, 2012), USM Art Gallery (Engaging Insects, Gorham, Maine, 2011), and the
Observatory (Entomologia, Proteus Gowanus art complex, Brooklyn, New York, 2010)
Negative impacts
As it is easy to identify cases in which humans celebrate certain
insects, so it is easy to consider why humans have reviled others.
One genus of mosquito, Anopheles, has indirectly served as the
harbinger of death to millions as vectors of malaria. So deadly are
some vectors that insects have been used as weapons of war, as
when the Japanese dropped and sprayed plague-infested eas on
enemies during World War II.15 Some insects pollinate crops, while
others destroy crops and livelihoods. Pain associated with bites
and stings, annoyance caused by uninvited interactions with insects,
and phobias can take their nancial, physical, mental, and emotional
toll on victims. Insects can be the stu of nightmares, some carrying
profoundly negative stigmata, deserved or not.16
Beauty and inspiration
Flowers are not beautiful for the sake of pleasing humans, but oen
to attract insect pollinators. Likewise, should any insect strike
humans as beautiful, their beauty is likely the product of evolution
by means of either natural or sexual selection. To be ashy may be
a warning of toxicity to would-be predators. To resemble beautiful
surroundings is to be camouaged, another tactic to avoid being
eaten or a means of hiding from prey. Alternatively, some of the
showiest, most colorful and elaborate of the insects appear as they
do because of selection pressures imposed upon them by potential
mates. As long as the threat of mortality is not too great, males risk
advertising their highly visible attributes to discerning females.
Warning coloration and crypsis are two evolutionary trajectories
that can make insects attractive to the human observer. Behavior
can also be a lure to the artist, who might be drawn to a dancing
honey bee, a predatory mantid, a castle of clay constructed by
termites, a beetle rolling along a ball of dung, ants waging war with
their neighbors, or a cockroach’s uncanny ability to escape harm.
Whatever the motivations artists may have had when producing
the works collected by E. Ashley Rooney for this book, the works
should not be dismissed as trivial, quirky, or quaint pieces that
happen to all depict members of an insignicant lineage of organisms.
Instead, these pieces are by artists who represent a larger community
carrying on a tradition of observing and interpreting the most
diverse and ubiquitous group of animals, important to our livelihoods,
to our culture, and to our appreciation of life.
Barrett Anthony Klein is professor of entomology and animal behavior at the
University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. The Pupating Lab is where his students and he
study sleeping insects, cultural entomology, and scientic visualization. Prior to La
Crosse, he made exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History in New York
and at Chase Studio in Missouri, and studied entomology at The University of Texas
at Austin (PhD), University of Arizona (MS), and Cornell University (BS). www.
1. Kritsky G, Cherry R. 2000. Insect Mythology. Writers Club Press: New York, NY.
2. Klein BA. 2003. Par for the palette: Insects and arachnids as art media. In: Insects in Oral
Literature and Traditi ons. Motte-Florac E & JMC omas, eds. Peeters: Paris, France.
3. Klein BA. 2015. Encaustics: repurposing the architecture of insects. Introduction to: e
Buzz Stops Here: an exhibition of encaustic artwork about the science and conservation
of bees. Art.Science.Gallery., Austin, TX, USA.
4. Regier JC, Shultz JW, Zwick A, Hussey A, Ball B, Wetzer R, Martin JW, Cunningham
CW. 2010. Arthropod relationships revealed by phylogenomic analysis of nuclear
protein-coding sequences. Nature. 463:1079-1083.
5. Hogue CL. 1987. Cultural entomology. Annual Review of Entomology. 32:181-199.
6. Berenbaum MR. 1995. Bugs in the System: Insects and their Impact on Human Aairs.
Addison-Wesley Publ. Co.: New York, NY.
7. Meyer-Rochow VB, Nonaka K, Boulidam S. 2008. More feared than revered: insects and
their impact on human societies (with some specic data on the importance of
entomophagy in a Laotian setting). Entomologie heute. 20:3-25.
8. Klein BA. 2013. Standing on the shoulders of wee giants. Introduction to: ECLOSION: a
juried group exhibition of insect-inspired art. Art.Science.Gallery., Austin, TX, USA.
9. Kabakov I. 1992. e Life of Flies. Edition Cantz: Köln, Germany.
10. Klein BA. 2007. Insects in Art. In: Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships: A
Global Exploration of Our Connections with Animals. Beko M, ed. Greenwood Press,
Westport, CT. 1:92-99.
11. Wilson EO. 1992. e Diversity of Life. Belknap Press: Cambridge, MA.
12. Go ML. 2000. A Fly for the Prosecution: How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes. Harvard
Univ. Press: Cambridge, MA.
13. Brookes M. 2001. Fly: e Unsung Hero of 20th-Century Science. HarperCollins Publ.,
Inc.: New York, NY.
14. Chaline E. 2011. Fiy Animals that Changed the Course of History. Firey Books: Bualo,
15. Lockwood JA. 2009. Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War. Oxford
University Press: Oxford, UK.
16. Klein BA. 2012. e curious connection between insects and dreams. Insects. 3:1-17.
Barrett Anthony Klein
My six-legged muse is sheathed in chitinous
armor. I am an entomologist, conducting
research on sleep in societies of insects.
Every science venture creates opportunities
for artistic expression, and each image I
selected to appear here was created on a
foundation of natural history and/or scientic
discovery. During an interim between
academic bouts of entomology, I fabricated
natural history exhibits at Chase Studio
Inc., then at the American Museum of
Natural History, roaming its half-lit halls
by night and creating insects, giant viruses,
and working in Exhibition by day.
Today, I celebrate insects through my
research in biology and cultural entomology
as an assistant professor at the University
of Wisconsin–La Crosse (
prole/bklein/ and
Courtesy of Dosha Klein.
Biodiversity. Color pencil + copper etching digital composite. 8” × 8”. 2008.
Mutillidae. Velvet ant parasite (Hoplomutilla xanthocerata) of
orchid bees, in Orchid Bees of Tropical America: Biology and
Field Guide (Roubik, D. W. & Hanson P. E., InBio Press, Heredia,
Costa Rica 2004). Color pencil. 6” × 4”. 2002.
Damselflies. Digitally painted, digital scanned composites of damselfly specimens; process described in Damselflies of Texas: A Field
Guide, pp. 22-25 (Abbott, J. C., University of Texas Press, 2011). 7.5” × 10”. 2011.
Martialis heureka. “Discovery of new ant species and subfamily” (E. O. Wilson, 2013. Letters to a
Young Scientist. Liveright Publ. modified from original version, found here: Rabeling C., Brown. J.M.,
Verhaagh, M. 2008. “Newly discovered sister lineage sheds light on early ant evolution.” PNAS.
105:14913-14917). Digital + color pencil. 6” × 8.5”. 2013.
Mantid. Mixed media (urethane, wire, acrylic, and oil paint). 3.5” long. 1998. Model perched within
the Hall of Biodiversity rainforest exhibit, American Museum of Natural History.
Thermal Society 1. Thermal
image, FLIR camera. 7.5” ×
10”. 2011.
Orchid Bees. Euglossa hugonis & E. inflata (Roubik, D. W. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 77:235-2532004). Composite of two ink drawings. 10” × 11.5”. 2003.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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VICTOR BENNO MEYER-ROCHOW, KENICHI NONAKA & SOMKHIT BOULIDAM Summary: The general public does not hold insects in high regard and sees them mainly as a nuisance and transmitters of disease. Yet, the services insects render to us humans as pollinators, entomophages, producers of honey, wax, silk, shellac, dyes, etc. have been estimated to be worth 20 billion dollars annually to the USA alone. The role holy scarabs played to ancient Egyptians is legendary, but other religions, too, appreciated insects: the Bible mentions honey 55 times. Insects as ornaments and decoration have been common throughout the ages and nowadays adorn stamps, postcards, T-shirts, and even the human skin as tattoos. In many parts of the world, insects serve as objects of entertainment and represent a considerable value: large, single, live stag beetles are known to have sold for approximately 3,000 US dollars in Japan. In New Zealand and Malaysia luminescent insect displays have become lucrative tourist attractions. In forensic investigations insects have gained more and more in importance as incidences of homicide and smuggle of contraband rise. Insects as parts of comic strips, horror movies, video games, etc. have also become very popular. Insects appear in sarcastic and science fiction novels, but are also frequently the subjects of romantic or humorous poems. Folk music of virtually all countries of the world knows certain insect songs and in probably all languages of the world idioms exist that make reference to insects. Very often such idioms, just like the many insect-based folk medicines of the different ethnic groups of the world, disappear, before they have even been scientifically analyzed. There is some hope, however, with regard to insects as human food. Insects contain easily digestible fats, valuable protein, fibre, minerals, and vitamins. Under threat through “westernization” in many parts of the world, entomophagy has seen some resurgence in certain areas. In southern Africa mopame worms are now being canned and exported to many countries and in Laos a veritable crickets-as-food industry has evolved over the last 18 years. Children and women collect wild (not farmed) crickets, sell them to middlemen (which are mostly ladies), who take the insects to the towns and sell them there for a profit to customers like snack bar and restaurant owners. Crickets are, of course, not the only edible insects (there are hundreds of species belonging to virtually all insect orders), but in Laos they are considerably more valuable than rice and even meat. We conclude that any investigation dealing with humankind in nature, be it from the viewpoint of sociology, ecology, economy, or philosophy, will remain incomplete unless the substantial role of the insects is included in such investigations.
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The ubiquitous insects have been a cultural inspiration internationally, frequently used as symbols and meta-phors for human existence and experience. Their boundless forms and behaviors make them logical candidates for artistic expression, providing artists with novel media to translate the mood, message and effect of a work. I survey how artists have used actual insects and arachnids in their work, both indirectly (through insects’ and arachnids’ bodily secretions and uniquely manufactured products, such as beeswax and caddisfly cases) and di-rectly (using live or dead individuals). From Dubuffet's collage of lepidopteran wings and Yanagi's representa-tive ant nations redistributing flags of sand, to the traditional use of cochineal bug exoskeletons and buprestid beetle elytra for adornment, insects and arachnids, with their accessible, varied forms and cultural significance, have served as art media throughout human history.
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A majority of humans spend their waking hours surrounded by insects, so it should be no surprise that insects also appear in humans’ dreams as we sleep. Dreaming about insects has a peculiar history, marked by our desire to explain a dream’s significance and by the tactic of evoking emotions by injecting insects in dream-related works of art, film, music, and literature. I surveyed a scattered literature for examples of insects in dreams, first from the practices of dream interpretation, psychiatry, and scientific study, then from fictional writings and popular culture, and finally in the etymology of entomology by highlighting insects with dream-inspired Latinate names. A wealth of insects in dreams, as documented clinically and culturally, attests to the perceived relevance of dreams and to the ubiquity of insects in our lives.
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The remarkable antiquity, diversity and ecological significance of arthropods have inspired numerous attempts to resolve their deep phylogenetic history, but the results of two decades of intensive molecular phylogenetics have been mixed. The discovery that terrestrial insects (Hexapoda) are more closely related to aquatic Crustacea than to the terrestrial centipedes and millipedes (Myriapoda) was an early, if exceptional, success. More typically, analyses based on limited samples of taxa and genes have generated results that are inconsistent, weakly supported and highly sensitive to analytical conditions. Here we present strongly supported results from likelihood, Bayesian and parsimony analyses of over 41 kilobases of aligned DNA sequence from 62 single-copy nuclear protein-coding genes from 75 arthropod species. These species represent every major arthropod lineage, plus five species of tardigrades and onychophorans as outgroups. Our results strongly support Pancrustacea (Hexapoda plus Crustacea) but also strongly favour the traditional morphology-based Mandibulata (Myriapoda plus Pancrustacea) over the molecule-based Paradoxopoda (Myriapoda plus Chelicerata). In addition to Hexapoda, Pancrustacea includes three major extant lineages of 'crustaceans', each spanning a significant range of morphological disparity. These are Oligostraca (ostracods, mystacocarids, branchiurans and pentastomids), Vericrustacea (malacostracans, thecostracans, copepods and branchiopods) and Xenocarida (cephalocarids and remipedes). Finally, within Pancrustacea we identify Xenocarida as the long-sought sister group to the Hexapoda, a result confirming that 'crustaceans' are not monophyletic. These results provide a statistically well-supported phylogenetic framework for the largest animal phylum and represent a step towards ending the often-heated, century-long debate on arthropod relationships.
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Ants are the world's most conspicuous and important eusocial insects and their diversity, abundance, and extreme behavioral specializations make them a model system for several disciplines within the biological sciences. Here, we report the discovery of a new ant that appears to represent the sister lineage to all extant ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). The phylogenetic position of this cryptic predator from the soils of the Amazon rainforest was inferred from several nuclear genes, sequenced from a single leg. Martialis heureka (gen. et sp. nov.) also constitutes the sole representative of a new, morphologically distinct subfamily of ants, the Martialinae (subfam. nov.). Our analyses have reduced the likelihood of long-branch attraction artifacts that have troubled previous phylogenetic studies of early-diverging ants and therefore solidify the emerging view that the most basal extant ant lineages are cryptic, hypogaeic foragers. On the basis of morphological and phylogenetic evidence we suggest that these specialized subterranean predators are the sole surviving representatives of a highly divergent lineage that arose near the dawn of ant diversification and have persisted in ecologically stable environments like tropical soils over great spans of time. • biodiversity • Formicidae • long-branch attraction • phylogeny • soil biology
This chapter discusses cultural entomology, which is the study of the role of insects in those human affairs that are practiced for the nourishment of the mind and soul, such as language and literature, music, folklore, religion, art, and recreation. These activities that pervade primitive and modern human societies are concerned primarily with life's meaning rather than its function. Insects figure prominently in the creation myths of many cultures. Entomological mythology commonly employs transformations of beings between the insect and the human form, the acquisition of souls by insects, and ultimately the deification of insect forms. Insects are also used symbolically throughout the world's religions in a variety of roles. Throughout human existence, many insects have been admired for their ingenuity, beauty, fantastic shapes, and behaviors. In some instances, the use of insects as totemic figures that may symbolize ancestry or kinship of humans with these organisms leads to a deep sense of adoration and reverence. The songs, sounds, and other qualities of insects have inspired many musicians and songwriters. The sounds produced by various insects serve as songs for direct enjoyment or as the inspiration for man-made music.
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