Fragaria vesca, Wild strawberry
Materials – Beeswax, pesticide residues in the beeswax (piperonyl butoxide, fenpyroximate*, metolachlor*, azoxystrobin*, coumaphos, pyraclostrobin*, cyprodinil*, trifloxystrobin*, fluopyram* and atrazine), tinned copper wire, tissue paper, dressmaking beads, cotton thread, silk fabric, dry ground artists’ pigments, acrylic paints, acrylic varnish.
*These pesticide residues were also found on nearby strawberry flowers.
The concept for this artwork was conceived following a chance conversation between scientist and artist at the Cross-Pollination Conference in 2017. Since that time, scientific data and wax samples have been sent across continents and the concept has grown into a piece of collaborative scientific art.
The Fragaria vesca, Wild strawberry sculpture, created using traditional wax model making techniques, has been made from honey bee wax provided by Dr. Scott McArt, Assistant Professor at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the NYS Beekeeper Tech Team. The honey bee wax, collected from bee colonies in New York State, has been analysed and found to contain pesticide residues. As the sculpture contains traces of these agricultural chemicals, they have been listed as artist’s materials.
Wax has been used by artists in the creation of scientific models for education and teaching since the late 17th century, and botanical wax model making reached a height of popularity during the advent of the public museum in the 19th century. The translucency and life-like quality of the material enabled artists to create realistic and beautiful representations of plants for gallery displays, in order to engage visitors with scientific discovery.
This work continues this tradition, aiming to raise awareness of the widespread use of agricultural chemicals and the transfer of these chemicals from agricultural crops to wildflowers and pollinators, promoting discussion on the man-made issues which have contributed to the global decline of pollinating insects.
Fragaria vesca, Wild strawberry was exhibited in ‘PolliNation: Artists Crossing Borders with Scientists to Explore the Value of Pollinator Health’ 2019 at the Mann Gallery, Cornell University, New York.