Continued from last post...
Undaunted, I called the extension university in Pullman, somehow confident that since it was WSU they had a civic obligation to answer me—a taxpayer’s question. I was right or lucky. A helpful insect expert told me the ants I was looking for were in my yard. “Moisture ants”, she called them. Honey lovers, maybe even vegans, perfectly safe for the average person’s home if they didn’t keep sugar in the pantry. How do you harvest them, I asked. Do you have to dig up an anthill? Do I need to capture the queen?
No, I was told. If you want ants that like honey simply place something with a flat surface out in the yard and they will volunteer to live in your painting. It was the perfect answer, an elegant proof.
I painted a second bottom panel below the blanket painting, the panel behind the sandy soil I hoped would be transformed to an underground city, like my paintings of the denny Regrade years before. Wouldn’t be a shame, I thought if the ant living spaces reached the back wall and there was nothing on it? To this end I painted tiny Jack Gunter paintings that I hoped would be visible inside the burrows on the wall, just in case.
In the back yard on my knees looking for ants I made another discovery. A garden hose lying in the unkempt grass was an ant superhighway. Preferring an easy hose stroll over a scramble over thick undergrowth, they had discovered the express lane across the yard.
The big day was here. I planned to capture as many volunteers as I could to build my ant farm and stroll around on a painting of a picnic to have lunch. Why wouldn't they love it? The frame stood against the house with the top off, waiting to receive its new citizens. I painted the words, “I love Karla” with honey on a flat cardboard square and placed it over the hose with a dab of honey at the edge to get their attention. It occurred to me that it was a shame I didn’t have time to print out tiny road signs on tine wood signposts to place beside the hose at ant level to encourage the volunteers, signs that announced, Enlist in a great art adventure.#antfarm #eggtempera #edibleart