Friday, July 18, 2014

CRETACEOUS SUMMER 2014: Art Making in the Ichno-Fields of Montana, a Brief Interview (blog #4)

ART MAKING SCIENTIST IN MONTANA. (Self portrait upon the request of his wife)
Hallelujah for marriages and resulting collaborations—like this project “Cretaceous Summer 2014” written together by my beloved Chiboogamoo (aka Tony Martin) an me! Today’s blog entry is about the “art” my beloved husband has been generating in his yellow field notebook whilst in the “ichno-fields” of Montana.
Our Studio Sign (art by HT)
Allow me, however, to regress, to an early time in our Ichno-Art Cat Palace (as we call our home) in 2010, with the fanfare my Chiboogamoo and I used to name our studio--“THE MEME STUDIO: In the Evolution of our Marriage, We Pass on Memes, Not Genes”!

And, this following statement introduces our thinking behind our MEME STUDIO:

We take art and science and create MEMEs! Woefully childish--I mean childless, we propagate ourselves by consolidating what we know into drawings and paintings, and yes words. We have begun THE MEME STUDIO as an experiment in our marriage. Because we forgot to have children, we are remembering ourselves in MEMEs.
COLLABORATION IN THE MEME STUDIO. In 2011, Chiboogamoo and I created the "Holy Trinity of Ichnology," using the trilobite to illustrate the three principles of substrate, anatomy, and behavior. (Photo by Lisa Alexander Streib)
TRILOBITE AND TRAIL (art by the Meme Studio)
As I prepare to journey to Montana to join Chiboogamoo at Camp Makela, I asked him to answer a number of questions about himself as an artist and scientist. Below are the questions he chose to answer. 

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: How have you been using drawing in your work in Montana these past two weeks? Can you explain your daily creative process?

ICHNOLOGIST TONY MARTIN: I use drawing in my field notebook every day as a way to observe and process what I’m observing. This may involve very basic labeled sketches, but once I start adding details to these, this often triggers a leap in logic. I’ve had some of my best “a-ha!” scientific moments while drawing in the field.        
HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Do you share your drawing with colleagues at the field site? What are their responses? 

ICHNOLOGIST TONY MARTIN: I do often share my drawings with colleagues when in the field, because it is far easier to show someone a picture of what you’re studying than to talk about it. It’s even better than showing someone a photo on a digital camera, because often the other person can’t quite see what’s significant in a photo. For this field work, I’ve also enjoyed showing my field drawings to the student volunteers here, because I want to give them examples of “good practice” for taking field notes.            
PUPAL CHAMBERS. (by Anthony Martin)
HALLELUJAH TRUTH: What is the future of these field drawings? 

ICHNOLOGIST TONY MARTIN: I could seen some of them being rough drafts for illustrations I’ll include in scientific papers, but they could also serve as inspirations for future creative artworks. For instance, my field work in Montana from previous times inspired a piece of art I did for the Darwin exhibit at Fernbank Museum of Natural History a few years back.  
PARASITOID (art by Anthony Martin). "Parasitoid"was inspired by fossils in Cretaceous-age (75 million-year-old) rocks of Montana (where my Chiboogamoo is now!). These fossils hold evidence of where the larvae of an insect – probably a wasp – developed inside the cocoons of other insects and likely consumed them. Insects that employ this form of predation are called parasitoids. This insidious behavior clearly served as a model for the titular xenomorph antagonists in the Alien movies. As a result, the composition, color choices, and title for the artwork acknowledge the movie poster for Alien, which featured a green-yellow cocoon hatching and the warning, “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

The artwork thematically links to Darwin for a statement he once made about parasitoid wasps: “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.” The figures depicted in this work show the stages of parasitoid behavior represented by the Cretaceous fossils (from left to right): a small cocoon within a larger one à an exit hole from the larger host cocoon à and an exit burrow leaving the host. The artwork and the science behind it are thus meant to echo Darwin’s struggle to reconcile his spiritual beliefs with the factual basis of natural selection, as well as look really cool.
HALLELUJAH TRUTH: How have I influenced you, your science and your art, other than my abundant enthusiasm for it all? 

ICHNOLOGIST TONY MARTIN: Support and encouragement is essential for both science and art, but also sharing it with others completes the process of each. A scientist who never shares her or his work is never going to be a successful scientist, and I think the same is true for artists. So your abundant enthusiasm and willingness encouraging my sharing have improved me as both a scientist and artist! 
TA DA! The two of us in the MEME STUDIO  in 2010. We have since had to relinquish our studio which was rented outside our home but hunger for another place to collaborate on Cretaceous art or any ichno-art in the future.
That’s Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me about your drawing out in the world! How does “drawing where you are right now” figure into your Daily Creative Practice?

1 comment:

  1. Great blog and drawings. The wasp parasitoid reminds me of Annie Dillard's Pulitzer winning non-fiction book "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" (1979 I think) in which she observes the ways of nature in her mountain valley home. Such incredibly cruel parasite behaviors abound along with the beauty. Wonderful book with musings on spirituality as well.