This year my debut novel “In Search of Goliathus Hercules” was published but I am best known for my exhibitions of insect “wallpapers.” There is often confusion as to whether the insects in my artwork are real. Yes, they are although they are dead and dried. The colours are their natural colour. I have not painted them. I have spent considerable time in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand and Malaysia where most of the insects I work with come from. While none of these species are endangered it is important to note that their habitat is under assault. Unsurprisingly forests play second fiddle to human demands for agriculture and urbanization. Intellectually we recognize that forests are the lungs of the planet but not enough is being done to protect this precious resource. Virtually every insect on the endangered species list is there because of loss of habitat. Much of Goliathus Hercules takes place in the rainforest in Malaysia.
Ever heard the saying that where there is one cockroach there are 100? Most species (but not all) reproduce at a tremendous rate. Collecting insects is ecologically sound if done in a thoughtful manner but unfortunately it is not always practiced. A number of butterflies and some beetles are now being farm raised with the express purpose of marketing to collectors. When I am able I use farmed insects.
Many people who visit my exhibitions were never aware that such unusual insects exist. I hope that my exhibition will get them excited and perhaps they will be motivated to get involved with one of the many of the rain forest preservation projects out there. I would also like people to think about their own environment and behavior. How is urban and suburban encroachment affecting wildlife big and small in your neighborhood? It is easy to take up the case of larger mammals, birds and fish but what about smaller creatures who have an important role in the ecosystem to play be it pollinating flowers or helping in the decomposition of various matter?
Finally I want to say that I reuse and reuse the insects I have. After an exhibition I pin them on to foam boards and put them into boxes until the next exhibition. If something is damaged I always try to repair it before it gets thrown away and those beyond repair I give to children for further study. I hope that readers who enjoy my book may be inspired to help save the six legged creatures who are so vital to our environment.
To enter to win a SIGNED copy of the book, please leave a comment on this post by Friday night with your contact info. Please make sure it's the correct information before posting. US and Canada only please.
Wednesday, Jennifer will be over at The Midnight Garden with another guest post and giveaway. Might as well enter all of them, right?!
Thanks to Albert Whitman & Company for the review copy!