By Elizabeth Bello
Editor’s Be aware: This put up is a part of a collection contributed by the ESA Scholar Affairs Committee. See different posts by and for entomology college students right here at Entomology As we speak.
Human historical past has been undeniably intertwined with bugs as each a supply of annoyance and artistic affect. Lengthy earlier than the primary microscope was invented, historic individuals have been depicting bugs that they noticed. The oldest recorded depiction was a cricket carved into bison bone that was present in a collapse Southern France in 1912 and estimated to be about 14,000 years outdated. Not solely have bugs been portrayed in artwork however they themselves have turn into the artwork. The Tamanmushi jewel beetle shrine in Japan is considered the earliest instance of beetle elytra being utilized in an ornamental trend. Different portrayals of bugs and inventive utilizations might be discovered spanning the globe, from Australia to early Mayan civilizations in Central America and virtually all over the place in between.
Maybe the 2 hottest and extensively identified types of insect artwork embrace the express illustration of bugs and the usage of insect physique elements or entire our bodies to create jewellery, resin artwork, assortment shows, and sculptures amongst others. Nevertheless, insect artwork may also be outlined to incorporate the usage of insect media, wherein an artist makes use of the extracts or merchandise of an insect to create artwork. Though Charles Hogue outlined cultural entomology in 1980, little has been printed about entomology and ethnoentomology in direct relation to the humanities, particularly insect media.
In late 2021, Barrett Klein, Ph.D., professor of biology on the College of Wisconsin-La Crosse, printed a incredible have a look at insect artwork and bug media titled “Wax, Wings, and Swarms: Bugs and Their Merchandise as Artwork Media” within the Annual Evaluation of Entomology. In the meantime, the theme of the 2022 Joint Annual Assembly of the Entomological Societies of America, Canada, and British Columbia is “Entomology as Inspiration: Bugs by means of artwork, science, and tradition.” So, now is an ideal time to share and discover a few of the insect artwork mediums Klein discusses in his assessment. That is on no account a complete have a look at the topic, however moderately I merely wish to present a couple of examples from Klein’s assessment of how bugs can be utilized in artwork that many individuals could have beforehand ignored.
Insect Physique and Physique Elements
Bugs are available all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colours (each structural and pigment-based) and might be remarkably eye-catching and exquisite. Due to this, artists have instantly used bugs of their artwork to create jewellery; adorn textiles; construct sculptures, dolls, and collectible figurines; and organize dazzling shows of ornate bugs for museum or private collections.
Wings are a preferred materials and have been utilized in mosaics, in flapping installations, on canvases, and in fantasy fairy lands. Butterfly and moth wings are of specific curiosity, and a way referred to as “lepidochromy” makes use of a wing and an adhesive to switch the scales of the wing to paper or different supplies.
Residing bugs may also be utilized in artwork and leisure: Members of the households Elateridae and Lampyridae have been used to create bioluminescent elaborations, fleas have been utilized in circuses, Dermestid beetles have been utilized in dioramas, ant colonies have been admired by youngsters, and leaf-cutter ants have been coaxed into carrying tiny flags and peace symbols in conceptual artistic endeavors.
In these circumstances, the bugs are the medium. However different examples illustrate how mediums might be derived from bugs.
Wax, Honey, and Propolis
Beeswax is a product of sugar conversion that takes place in specialised glands on the ventral stomach of employee honey bees. It has been used to sculpt, forged, and create molds. It has additionally been used to create encaustic paint, which is the results of mixing pigment and liquid wax. Lithographic inks and pencils may also be made utilizing this wax.
Honey, typically used for culinary functions, can be utilized as a binder for pigment particles and will have been utilized by the Greeks to color the partitions of the Palace of Nestor.
Propolis, a resin-like materials additionally produced by honey bees, has been utilized by artist Marlène Huissoud to create sculptures by making use of fundamental glass blowing, engraving strategies, and modified kiln temperature and time for curing.
Spiders could be the primary creature that involves thoughts when considering of silk, however it’s the silk of bugs, particularly moths, which have given rise to the silk business. One species, Bombyx mori, or the domesticated silkworm, is primarily accountable for silk manufacturing that’s utilized in trend, fiber arts, and canvases. It has been bred for greater than 4,500 years and is fully depending on people. Silk has been so essential traditionally that German geographer and traveler Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the phrase “silk street” to explain your entire collection of commerce routes connecting Europe and East Asia, the place silk was thought of an important commodity.
The pages of R. P. J. Hervier’s Livre de prieres: d’apres les enluminures des manuscrits du XIVe au XVIe siècle, printed in 1887, are made fully of silk and woven with black and gray thread. It took 2 years and virtually 50 trials to appropriate the method. Right here, a replica is proven on show on the Uncommon E book and Manuscript Library on the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (Photograph by Elizabeth Bello)
Dyes and Stains
Essentially the most vibrant of the pure pink dyes come from scale bugs (superfamily Coccoidea). Carmine is a shiny crimson dye that’s sourced from scaled bugs within the genus Kermes and cochineal bugs by drying feminine our bodies and grinding them to a superb powder. This dye binds particularly properly to mammal hair, textiles, partitions, and books however is inclined to fading, because the pigment molecules are degraded over time.
One other insect-derived pigment comes from lac bugs (Kerria spp. and Paratachardina spp.) wherein the dye is extra color-fast than carmine however nonetheless inclined to degradation.
Insect gall ink is most everlasting and was initially thought to return from the our bodies of gall wasps however was later discovered to be a results of excessive tannic acid concentrations discovered within the galls brought on by sure gall wasp larvae. This ink might be seen in outstanding items by Leonardo Da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Vincent Van Gogh.
Apparently, houseflies (Musca domestica) have been fed sugar-watercolor mixtures to create stains composed of their saliva and feces as seen in John Knuth’s fly work.
Lacquer and Finishes
Shellac is a industrial resin that’s manufactured from the secretions of feminine Kerria lacca lac bugs. It’s a protecting coating and ornamental end for wooden furnishings that has been used for greater than 3,000 years. One other end, utilized in Mayan civilizations, comes from the fats inside large margaroid feminine Llavia axin scale bugs.
Paper might be composed of a wide range of supplies however is primarily constructed from pulped vegetation or timber, leading to a mix of cellulose fibers and water. People, nonetheless, aren’t the one ones who make paper. Members of the wasp household Vespidae create paper nests by chewing plant or wooden fibers and mixing it with their saliva. Wasp nests can then be collected and repulped by people to create paper sheets. It may also be electroplated, minimize and ordered, or utilized to varied surfaces as a sort of papier-mâché.
Importantly, in his assessment Klein additionally discusses insect biodiversity in relation to artwork and the ethics of utilizing bugs in artwork. As I couldn’t have mentioned it higher myself, I depart you with Klein’s phrases:
“Human-induced extinction charges are rising alarmingly, and every loss, other than having ecological penalties, means misplaced potential to understand an insect, together with artistically. It’s crucial that people, together with artists, observe accountable, sustainable use of bugs or insect merchandise for the sake of preserving insect variety and abundance, respecting their implicit worth, realizing their identified and unknown ecological roles, or investing in future anthropocentric attributes (materials, medical).”
Elizabeth Bello is a graduate pupil within the Division of Entomology on the College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology Part Consultant to the Entomological Society of America’s Scholar Affairs Committee. Twitter: @insects247. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.