“Tardigrade Wars” is inspired by children’s drawings and invokes nature, climate change and war in an apocalyptic and surreal future that I hope will remain real only in a child’s imagination. Setting these wars in outer space, I employ watercolor techniques commonly used to depict nature, gardens and beautiful landscapes, as well as traditional Japanese painting perspective where foreground and background are a function of size and placement and many narratives can happen in a single panel.
 
Tardigrades are microscopic animals that are found everywhere on Earth, from the tops of mountains to deep-sea mud volcanos and can survive the most extreme conditions of temperature, pressure, dehydration, starvation, air deprivation and radioactivity and can live up to 100 years. They’ve survived through all five mass extinctions on Earth. As they can survive even in outer space, some believe their origins to be extraterrestrial. I’ve found many children to be completely enchanted by Tardigrades’ cuddly (under a microscope) nature, even more so when trying to cope with ideas of death and the fragility of life.
 
These monochrome works are made with carmine pigment, derived from the insect Cochineal, which lives on prickly pear cacti and produces carminic acid as a defense against predators. My use of carmine pigment to depict these battle scenes contradicts tardigrade toughness. Cochineals are tiny insects that are extremely sensitive to climate conditions. Farmed at the foot of the Chilean Andes during a cycle that lasts only three months, the cacti on which they live must be kept at a constant temperature of 81°F.  First used by the lost Aztec civilization, cochineal pigment is now very popular in the food industry for coloring sweets, jellies and even meats. Cochineals are one of the species at risk of extinction in the wild due to climate change.

Tardigrade Wars
Cibele Vieira Tardigrade Wars Watercolor
Tardigrade World
2018
Watercolor
13x17 inches

Cibele Vieira Tardigrade Wars Watercolor
Noah's Arc
2018
Watercolor
8x10 inches

Cibele Vieira Tardigrade Wars Watercolor
Untitled
2018
Watercolor
13x17 inches

Cibele Vieira Tardigrade Wars Watercolor
Airplane Down
2018
Watercolor
13x 17 inches

Cibele Vieira Tardigrade Wars Watercolor
Untitled
2018
Watercolor
13x17 inches

Cibele Vieira Tardigrade Wars Watercolor
Untitled
2018
Watercolor
13x17 inches