Atrium Art Gallery
University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn College
April 11 - June 6, 2014
Ant Farm is a multi-media collaborative exhibit merging art and science inspired by leafcutter ants. Four artists, Colleen Kinsella, Rebecca Goodale, Dorothy Schwartz, and Vivien Russe, have long been close friends and several years ago dreamed up an idea of a project where they truly work collaboratively–like a small ant colony–to create a singular but multi-faceted project. This visual representation of leafcutter ants highlights their social structure and life cycle, including nuptial flights, egg laying, food gathering, and fungus cultivating. The exhibit features printmaking, installations, drawing, collage, and artists’ books. Elliott Schwartz and Caleb Mulkerin composed and performed original music with Colleen Kinsella for the exhibition.
All works attributed to the Ant Girls: Colleen Kinsella, Rebecca Goodale, Vivien Russe, and Dorothy Schwartz
Exhibit opening April 11, 2014 6 pm - 8pm
Pastries provided by café Bread Shack
The nearly 9 million known species on Earth, in a multitude of forms, color, and size, are a wealth of natural beauty and mystery that attracts both scientists and artists. In the project Ant Farm: At the Nexus of Art and Science, artists depict the lives of one of the most sophisticated social insects, the leafcutter ants. Iconic members of the tropics, leafcutter ants are often visible from trails of moving leaves, each of which is carried by the large mandibles of an ant. Not only are the trails fascinating, but each leaf presents its own unique form marked by distinct mandibular cuts. The underground nest boasts an intricate design with a labyrinth of corridors and rooms, some with fungal gardens where fungi are cultivated by the ants using the leaves. Thus, the leafcutters form symbiotic relationships with fungi.
All of this happens in the backdrop of the rich sounds of the tropics. At 5 in the morning, howler monkeys call loudly and birds start to wake up. From the sound of downpours to the mating calls of insects and frogs, the music of a rainforest is an inspiration not only to scientists but also to musicians. In this installation, the Ant Girls have worked collaboratively with the added support of musicians to depict the natural beauty and hard work of leafcutter ants. Through their scientifically informed renditions of the ant anatomy and knowledge of ant behavior and physiology, the Ant Girls communicate the intricacies and beauty of these tiny insects, which are so often overlooked. The symbiosis of art, science, and music in this installation should awaken our innate appreciation for their natural beauty.
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts
Rebecca Goodale, Vivien Russe and Dorothy Schwartz
Saturday, May 17
Noon-2:00 p.m.; bring a picnic lunch; free and open to the public
Join us with members of the Maine Entomological Society and ant expert Aaron Ellison (A Field Guide to the Ants of New England) for identifying ants and sharing ant enthusiasm.
Ant Farm is supported in part by an Artists in Communities Grant from the Maine Arts Commission.