Week 3. Repetition

Drawing plants is like finding a dance step and using it over and over. Lines and shapes in nature repeat, radiate, rotate, stack. So I find my move and use it. By the end, I only see scribbles, I have to go and come back to see the whole.

The diatom on the front is a kind of algae. Diatoms are everywhere, in puddles, in lakes, in the ocean. Their silicious bodies preserve in sediments for thousands and millions of years. I studied them to read past landscapes. The repetition of their presence like a history book in silica code. Braided together, the counts of species tell a story about conditions in the lake: the intensity of winter, the ecosystem, human disturbances. My repeat lines and squiggles translate to a story of ancient landscapes.

I hate being scared of bodies because they’re different from mine. I love insects, but I’m terrified of ants.

Last summer, I took photos of pavement ant mounds and forgot about them until now. The pavement ant is Tetramorium caespitum.

If I draw something over and over, I fall in love with it, and any fear starts to fade. I used to draw the monsters in nightmares; when I did, their eyes always looked sad.

Mesosoma: the ant’s middle section. Metasoma: the heavy-looking end part that tapers. Petiole: the pinched wasp waist. Proprodium: the section of mesosoma that begins the abdomen. Instead of hearts, ants have spines of aorta that carry haemolymph back and forth.

Scientists don’t know much about how pavement ants live under the surface. All we have are the mounds, the way they journey and make war and will only have sex in the air.

I find myself drawing familiar, sleepy patterns: curlicues, licking flames, slow waves, Ws and Cs.


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