First ever Finger Lakes Chapter of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators member show
Ever wonder what it’s like go face-to-face with on 3 foot South American Erotylid Larva whose mechanics are so bizarre they could be creature concept art for an upcoming dystopian remake of “A Bugs Life” (1998), with Kevin Spacey still as the lead villain?
Not necessarily the star of this show, our obscure creature’s actual overall size is nearer 3mm, brought to gargantuan life with colored pencil by Trumansburg artist/illustrator Well Frances Fawcett.
This version of the South American Erotylid Larva is a traditional illustration found in the detailed field studies of our local naturalist. Here, much like architectural elevations and multi-view projections, flora and fauna of the natural world are rendered either at eye level or a birds eye view to capture intricate detail and an elegance of symmetry to be studied and passed along to fellow naturalists… and in this case to the appreciative public.
Fawcett’s larva has the empirical detail seen in an electron microscope combined with an aesthetic topography found in a landscape drawing. Her shading and blurring effects has a shallow photographic depth of field contributing to the alien-like forest riding on the the back of our South American Erotylid Larva, functioning perhaps as an over-evolved dorsal antenna array.
Going into the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators member show one would expect to see only the literal translations of nature found in field sketches and scientific journals, but the many examples on display show both objective scientific renderings and subjective impressions of plants and animals.
For example, Lucy Gagliardo’s Gull and Cormorants shows a snippet into the behavior of waterbirds. Her illustration is the original ink drawing with negative space set aside for design purposes. Laid out as the starting point for an information poster, her illustration serves as the graphical foundation for public consumption.
Another example of Gagliardo’s use of natural science education through illustration is a bird’s eye study of a monochrome Harlequin Beetle. This form of illustration is an example of the illustrator’s use of visual insect identification silhouettes found in field guides and quick reference posters.
Ithaca artist Carla Elizabeth has a more subjective and lavish view of animal forms. Using materials like wire, sculpey, and paper-mache, Elizabeth sculpts almost lifelike specimens of scaled-down waterbirds and scaled-up beetles. The beetles are displayed in shadow boxes much like specimen cases used by entomologists for their collections. At a distance they resemble the real thing but up close you notice the craftiness responsible for the deception.
Elizabeth’s trio of water birds drew a lot of attention during the show’s opening in February at the conservatory in Trumansburg. The 18 inch tall birds, a Flamingo, an African Crowned Crane, and a Red-Crowned Crane, are frozen in a tell-tale pose characteristic of the species, encapsulating their expressive plumage and behavior.
The members of the Finger Lakes Guild offer us a view into their world of illustration which in turn offers visitors a view into our world. Your world is on view at the Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts till April 19th with a sketch with the artist day on Sunday March 22.