Thursday, December 4, 2014

Whose art is this anyway?

Germaine Jeanne Marie Levêque Lehner painted the canvas sometime in the early 1950’s.

The paper wasps, Vespidae polistes, built the nest out of ‘paper’ sometime in the summer of 2014.
They raised their brood in the open honeycombs beneath the paper outer cover, they pollinated crops, then they all flew away or died.

Tristram, Number One Son, climbed the tree with a pair of lopping shears between his teeth, and clipped the branch that was anchoring the nest. He passed it down to his grateful mother.

This morning, with a box cutter, I sliced an X in the center of the painting, then inserted the branch through my grandmother’s canvas, and affixed it to the stretcher bars with wire threaded through eyehooks.

It has recently been discovered by scientists that paper wasps have the ability to recognize faces, on the same level as humans and chimps.
Other research on wasps tells us that the intensity of their coloration can indicate the intensity of their toxicity. According to the Starr sting pain scale, paper wasps come in at 3.0, worse than fire ants, yellow jackets or Africanized bees, but not as bad as bullet ants. According to the Schmidt pain index, the sting of a paper wasp feels “Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.”

Just so you know.

1 comment:

Rebecca Rice said...

I love the quirky, poetic intensity of this piece...who knows how many wasps will be building nests in the works we, who are alive now, will leave behind?

I would despair that we are but "food for worms," but the wry intelligence of the voice sets me free. Thank you!