SEPT. 10th Ant Girl Vivien Russe at BUG-MAINE-ia + Maine State Museum 9am -3pm

SEPT. 10th  9am -3pm

 Don't miss out on Vivien Russe's workshop on leaf cutter ants.
Click here for questions and directions.
The leaf cutter ants and humans are two species that are farmers. The leaf cutter ants cut leaves and carry them back to the colony to be used as a substrate to grow a fungus that is the food source for the colony.

At Bug-Maine-ia, kids can participate in making an ant scroll to capture this activity. Using soft block images of ants, they will print a column of ants on a long roll of paper and will then attach the leaf fragments to each ant. At the end of the day, the scroll will show just how busy these ants and these kids can be.

A similar activity was done by Ant Girls of Maine, as part of Ant Farm; at the nexus of Art and Science, a multimedia installation supported by the Maine Arts Commission.


ANT Farm Closing Celebration Thursday JUNE 5th 5-8 and more excellent press about the show...

‘Ant Girls’ triumphantly take over USM art gallery in Lewiston

Dorothy Schwartz, Rebecca Goodale, Vivien Russe and Colleen Kinsella have loosed their artistic depictions of leafcutter ants all over the Atrium.

By Daniel Kany
The sign for the Atrium Art Gallery at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College has been pirated by a large woodcut-printed paper ant so that it now reads “Ant” instead of “Art.” Inside, hang three huge scrolls of white paper covered in many thousands of printed leafcutter ants who, unlike their insurrectionist colleague, are going about their well-organized business of carrying bits of leaves.

click image to enlarge
Leafcutter ants cover hanging paper walls, scrolls and framed works on paper in “Ant Farm” at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College.
Courtesy photo

click image to enlarge
"Ant Farm: At the Nexus of Art and Science" opens at the Atrium Art Gallery at the University of Southern Maine.
Courtesy photos

Additional Photos Below

art review

“ANT FARM: AT THE NEXUS OF ART AND SCIENCE” – A collaborative exhibition by Dorothy Schwartz, Rebecca Goodale, Vivien Russe and Colleen Kinsella.
WHERE: Atrium Art Gallery, University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn College, 51 Westminster St., Lewiston
WHEN: Through June 6; gallery hours 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday through May 3
INFO: 753-6500 or usm.maine.edu/atriumgallery, http://antgirlsmaine.blogspot.com/
SEE ALSO: http://bit.ly/1lB0asc
The scrolls offer a first glimpse, but it’s immediately clear there is a huge show installed in the gallery.
To the left is a wall of about 30 framed works on paper. To the right is a pair of giant, accordioned hanging paper walls exploding with color. Works of art are everywhere -- hanging from the ceiling, mounding up on pedestals and filling vitrines.
Much of the work is thick with pulsing colors while the black forms of ants gather in appealingly rhythmic bunches everywhere throughout the space, from pictures on the wall to a cylindrical web of winged male suitors flying after a queen soaring 20 feet and more above the U-shaped atrium.
“Ant Farm: At the Nexus of Art and Science” is another extraordinary exhibition in the unique flavor of curator Robyn Holman’s shows featuring Maine artists taking on subjects of the natural world. Equal parts art and didactic science, these smart shows move fluently in both directions.
“Art Farm” is a gigantic exhibition both in terms of the number of works and the depth of its content. But despite its symphonic complexity, it’s a fun and welcoming show.
“Ant Farm” was made by a group of Maine artists who call themselves the “Ant Girls” – Dorothy Schwartz, Rebecca Goodale, Vivien Russe and Colleen Kinsella.
Schwartz died of lymphoma in March, just before “Ant Farm” opened in April. She was a beloved artist, professor and leader in the Maine arts scene who was the executive director of the Maine Humanities Council for 25 years. Rather than using “Ant Farm” to remember Schwartz, I think it should be seen for what it is: a great collaborative exhibition. I see “Ant Farm” as Schwartz’s triumph – not her memorial.
Schwartz’s touch sets the tone for “Ant Farm,” with images that reflect the draftsmanship and powerful aesthetic of her teacher, Leonard Baskin, arguably America’s greatest and most emotive printmaker.
That said, the idea of individual authorship of the works quickly dissolves. If you are a contemporary art fan, this might be the most interesting aspect of the show. Our post-war American view of art is so dedicated to the marketing and recognizability of any artist that we have lost the idea of movements and collaborations, the very stuff that made all those “isms” of art so exciting: impressionism, cubism, surrealism, expressionism and so on. It’s unusually interesting here because the society of leafcutter ants creates a complex cultural context for comparison. In fact, leafcutter ant societies are second only to humanity as the most complex animal societies on Earth.
Leafcutter ants live in tropical areas, including in the United States, and are notable for cutting and gathering leaves that they use as nutritional substrates on which they grow their food – a fungus. The ant girls show this alongside mating and communication practices among leafcutters, all of which they present in ways that echo or comment on the creative processes of art in our culture.
In the Surrealist game “exquisite corpse,” artists would fold paper so they couldn’t see the parts of a figure drawn by the other artists, dividing head, torso and lower body. The Ant Girls, in an intriguing meld of architecture, surrealism and “women’s work,” made conjoined drawings on paper and then printed them on sewn patches of fabric treated with cyanotype emulsion (blueprint), creating large pictures of ants that are literal versions of exquisite corpse.
The 40 or so works on the opposite wall were passed from artist to artist until someone decided they were done. It was an apt process for these artists; while they look great together, virtually any of these works is quite excellent on its own.
The show also includes examples of handmade books in a series of vitrines. This is a particularly successful part of the show because these works are so accessible and anyone can imagine handling a book. These reflect a hands-on feel to the pair of hanging walls that are made of folded and notched paper. They are richly printed with Matisse-cutout-inspired tropical imagery featuring cool colors on the outside and warm tones on the inside. The two walls form a sort of tunnel that snakes along parallel to gallery’s long walkway ramp.
An extension of the show features works by each of the separate artists. However, this has the opposite effect from what I expected: Instead of giving us sufficient information to distinguish each artist’s contributions to the collaborations, they underscore that the work cannot be completely parsed.
Another unexpected quality is that the more you learn about leafcutter ant society (by reading the excellent label copy), the more impressive and deep the show becomes – particularly in its modeling of non-verbal social communication.
“Ant Farm” also features a beautiful (in the sense of Alban Berg’s “Wozzek”) soundtrack written and performed by Elliott Schwarz (husband of the late “Deedee”) in collaboration with Caleb Mulkerin and Kinsella.
Hidden in plain view among the exhibition’s deep conceptual insights about collaboration is what amounts to the most ambitious presentation of paper media I have ever seen: sculptures, prints, drawings, scrolls, books, installations, signage, paintings, puppetry, origami and more all brilliantly orchestrated as a single entity somewhere between an exhibition, an installation and a hive.
Because of its heavy pass-through traffic, it’s counterintuitive that the Atrium Art Gallery would routinely mount complex and conceptually challenging exhibitions. But it specializes in such shows, and I have seen none more ambitious or more impressive than “Ant Farm.”
Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. Contact him at:


Atrium Gallery Installation complete!

Working with curator Robyn Holman and Facilites Manager Randy Estes for the installation of the Ant Girls "Ant Farm" was a great experience. They were open to all our ideas and we problem solved any hanging issues. Thank you both for your tireless work on the lift and on the ground!


No Sad Songs + Dorothy Schwartz 1938 - 2014

   Friends and family are mourning the loss of our beloved Ant Sister Deedee Schwartz who passed away on March 3, 2014. The Ant Farm Project is a testament to her love of life. We began meeting 2 years ago thanks to Rebecca Goodale. At Deedee's suggestion we looked to E.O Wilson and the leafcutter ants because of their cooperative nature as a Superorganism. Working together ant-style our colony of 4 created works we never could have imagined or achieved on our own. Deedee worked with infectious enthusiasm, making beautiful woodcuts(see below) and co authoring a A MAC Artists in Commuinity grant with our honorary Ant Girl USM Curator Robyn Holman which we received in February 2014.
  Deedee had been sick since mid November but with her indomitable spirit continued, despite severe pain, to attend work meetings for our project. 
She died peacefully within days, surrounded by her loving family. We are all grateful for knowing Dorothy "Deedee" Schwartz. She was a force of nature. 
Her creative spirit was boundless, compassionate, intelligent and irreplaceable.
   Deedee and her husband, avant garde composer Elliott Schwartz were a creative team. They supported each others individual endeavors and  collaborated on "Darwin's Dream"
a multi- media performance. Elliott will be composing "Ant Girls" with Caleb Mulkerin for the upcoming exhibit. She made it clear she wanted “No Sad Songs”, feeling she had lived a very full life, with so much joy. Dorothy was a champion of  literature & literacy. She established the Harriet P. Henry Maine Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress. A quote from a collague during her time as Executive Directeor at the Maine Humanities Council, " Deedee’s energy, commitment and vision enriched not only the Council, but the state of Maine.
 This past October in 2013 the Maine Jewish Museum held her solo exhibition "Dorothy Schwartz: Evolution of a Printmaker" , beginning from her days with Leonard Baskin  in 1958 until present . Printmakers everywhere have lost a edgy contemporary whose elegant and compelling  legacy spans 7 decades. 


SLIDE SHOW Ant Girls 2014!

Fungus Farm   

Viv's gorgeously painted and printed paper with one of her ant drawings screen printed and attached to pop out.


This is a detail of a tunnel book by Rebecca G.
She put together the top three books using Ant Girls printed matter.

Brown Books made by Viv, then given the Ant Girls treatment.

We will have over 30 artists books in the exhibition.


ViV and Dee Dee at work.


Leafcutter ants entering the anthill.


 Over 40 collages were made by the Ant Girls.
They are culled from 2 years of meeting, talking, printing, researching, cutting and pasting.

Ant-omical Cyanotype Quilts

These were drawn Exquisite corpse-style then exposed to cyanotype fabric.
Beautifully sewn by Ant Girl Vivian Russe.

We're flying now... the Ant Girls ANT FARM exhibition opens  on April 11.