It's not just bugs that interest Ballengée--as the range of artworks in his current multi-media exhibit "Collapse: The Cry of Silent Forms" in Manhattan's
Ronald Feldman Fine Arts
gallery attest. His scientific research is not on insects but on amphibians--specifically, deformities in wetland ecosystems. Ballengée: "The amphibian art is inspired from my direct research experiences with the deformed frogs both in the field and laboratory. It is not intended as scientific illustration or documentation. Instead, chemically cleared and stained preserved frogs and toads with fatal deformities are carefully arranged on a high-resolution scanner with layers of laboratory cotton and glycerol. The resulting image files are printed on water color ink on water color paper so the frog is roughly the size of a human toddler …This size is made to be engaging, to bring people in and encourage contemplation."
The frog and toads that are subjects of his artistic and scientific work are deformed by mechanical perturbation, rather than genetic anomalies. These perturbations can be caused by parasitic infections or damage by predators like dragonfly nymphs while still developing from tadpoles. The exhibit will be up at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts through the end of July.
DFB 31, Arcás
, scanner photograph of cleared and stained multi-limbed Pacific Tree frog from Aptos, California. In scientific collaboration with Dr. Stanley K. Sessions. Title in collaboration with the poet KuyDelair. Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York.