No. 40. Como la Cigarra: A Song of Defiance and Survival

Como la Cigarra
Como la Cigarra: A Song of Defiance and Survival

Did You know? Cicadas have been used as money, in folk medicine, to forecast the weather, to provide song (in China), and depicted widely in folklore and myths around the world.

Cicadas are featured in the well-known protest song “Como La Cigarra” (“Like the Cicada”) written by the Argentinian poet and composer, María Elena Walsh. In the song, the cicada is a symbol of survival and defiance against death. “Como La Cigarra” was famously recorded by Mercedes Sosa View her singing it here.

These insects have been featured in literature since the ancient Greeks and in decorative Chinese art for at least a thousand years. In one Japanese novel, the main character poetically likens one of his many love interests to a cicada for the way she delicately sheds her robe the way a cicada sheds its shell when molting. Cicadas are a frequent subject of haiku, where, depending on the type, they can indicate spring, summer or autumn.

In a song popularized by Linda Ronstadt and others, “La Cigarra” (“The Cicada”), written by Raymundo Perez Soto, is a song that romanticizes the insect as a creature that sings until it dies.

The cicada has represented carelessness or indifference since classical antiquity. In one of Aesop’s fables, the cicada spends the summer singing while the ant stores away food, and finds herself without food when the weather turns bitter.

The cicada symbolizes rebirth and immortality in Chinese tradition.

With a cruel and ironic twist in an Ancient Greek myth, Tithonus turns into a cicada after being granted immortality, but not granted eternal youth, by Zeus. The Greeks also used a cicada sitting on a harp as emblematic of music.

This photo is one I will feature in an upcoming Studio B group exhibit “Larger than Life.”

Jay M. Ressler

Jay Ressler Composite Photography, Encaustic Art, and Oil Painting He is an outstanding location photographer and painter, with an eye that can capture the soul of a Havana back street as beautifully as the sip of a hungry hummingbird, often with compelling black and white images. Jay Ressler is best known for artistic expression that lives in layers between opposites. “I like to explore boundaries,” he explains. “Boundaries between consciousness and the unconscious, between reality and imagination, between certainty and skepticism.” He does this by compositing his own photography in multiple layers to produce stunningly original, interleaved images. Using Photoshop, other image manipulation software and a variety of digital effects, he paints one photographic layer on top of another. He takes advantage of textures he's captured along with an array of processes for manipulating light, contrast, and color to tell the story. “Distorting and reinterpreting the literal 'machine moments' captured by the camera is as old as the art of photography,” he insists. Jay occasionally extends his multi-layered approach to encaustic mixed media creations. Based on ancient techniques, the process begins with cooking his own recipes of beeswax and damar resin and applying this medium between the layers of photographic images, along with various pigmented compounds and materials to add color, texture and expression. Either way, the results are riveting. The viewer is drawn into an unfolding, dreamlike scene that might be heart-warming, haunting, gritty, poignant or magical. Sometimes, within the various layers, all of the above. The award-winning photographer/artist has many dimensions himself. He studied advanced digital photography at Pittsburgh Filmmakers and advanced encaustic techniques with leading instructors in the field. He worked as an underground coal miner, steelworker, machinist, labor and civil rights activist, copywriter and commercial printer. He has a BS in Psychology from Albright College.

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