Friday, January 24, 2014

2014 Interview with Ana Isabel O

Internationally known biologist
and writer Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez is constantly embarking on new projects. Educated in Europe and a self-taught Victorian patchwork maker since the early 90s, Ordonez has presented her work in France and Luxembourg. As a scientist she holds Masters and PhDs in Genetics, Forestry and Animal Biology and has lectured extensively throughout Europe, Africa, Japan, China, New Zealand and South America on insect-plant pathology and biological control research. She has also written several articles on the value of nature. Ordonez, however, has not confined her interests to the world of science. A true Renaissance woman, she is also a reputed jazz editor, independent filmmaker, music/art promoter and producer. In 2012 she contributed tirelessly to the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial tribute with Christopher Kennedy Lawford, because she believes in her heart that true valuable art of any kind must never be forgotten. Five years earlier, in 2005 with trumpeter Herb Robertson she had founded Ruby Flower Records with the plan to produce avant-garde music, exclusively for connoisseurs and purist audiophiles with the slogan "Creatively speaking...Where the talents blossom". Only recently she decided to expand the company's offerings to also include poetry and literature for children. Her children's books have been so popular, she has written a new one, continuing the joy of her Musical Forest. Her nephew Geronimo is doing the rest of the illustrations, but Ana still paints every day. The book will be available on in about a month. It will be distributed worldwide. 

As I read the new story about Aye Aye and her association with Professor Tekyp and the Hyperbrits and Euricoty, I was amazed at how much of your science background is working its way quite nicely into the stories. Tell me about your friend John and his role. How he came to be Tekyp in the story.

One has to pass the torch. The thing I learned after many years of studying and working in sciences is to share. That's why gifts are given to us. Prof Tepyk’s story was in hibernation,  after I wrote vol II; I wanted to enter into the biology subject with a lot humor.  You mean Professor F.R.S John Pickett.  Let me tell you something, I have a great admiration and respect for who and what John is. He's a fascinating character. I was just a Ph.D student in France when I first listened to one of his speeches. I was blasted with his knowledge and Briton sense of humor and wanted to be part of his team. We met again in Japan and then in China for Chemical Ecology congresses where he was the chairman and accepted my presentations. We discussed my wishes. It was in China that I knew I had to apply for a grant if I wanted to learn from John's team. Two years after when the Marie Curie Research Training Grant was awarded by  the European Union, I was appointed as a Post-doc fellow to his laboratory with the objective of  learning about isolation, production, formulation and application of bio-pesticides. This subject made part of his famous "Push Pull Strategy". Of all the people I worked with,  John and his team stand apart. I have only great remembrances. A great team led by a great man!

How did you decide what animal each character would be?

Oh, that was easy because John is gifted as an artist too and plays the trumpet (Jazz!) very well, so for me it was logical to choose a wild leopard to represent him. Christine Woodcock works in John's lab. She's a fabulous trombone player and I always enjoyed the Sundays I used to go to the local pub where they played. Christine is extremely smart and a warm soul; I never forget how she masters the chromatographe and her work with insects. I chose her to be a butterfly. For the banjo I chose Barry Pye because when I arrived at the experimental station, John appointed him as my direct boss, and it was brilliant! Barry taught me many things. The afternoons in the spray area doing our bio-assays with the track sprayer he invented were very nurturing to me. Barry played the banjo for John's band; in my story he takes the banjo again and joins the band! Through my years in the UK I began to build for Barry a pig collection, actually a pig and rhino collection. Every time I traveled I always brought him a pig or a rhino. I do recall the bargain in Kenya to buy the rhino (hahaha). Barry makes me laugh and I never forget people who make me laugh. I decided he will be the wild pig banjo player! The name of the characters changed of course.

Tell me about the trick and what scientific significance it shows, if any. Or is it just utilized to be entertaining and fun?

(she laughs) That's how open- minded John is. You know we had
a Xmas party (parties!) every year, and when I went to the first one, I met colleagues from all around the world; we were all together at a table. We were eating, and then all of the sudden John took some vodka (which I call for the children " magic potion") and fired his tummy hairs with a match (I call it "the burning bees", they are protagonists in another story!).  Man, that was a hell of a trick!  He didn't burn himself; he mastered the technique. (hahahaha)  He would play with his band afterwards. So, nice souvenirs, very funny! Britons have a particular sense of humor, which I love. I've called the band "The Hyperbrits" in the story. 
Euricoty is so precious. Is she patterned after someone you know?

Euricoty is Euricoty floridana, the scientific name of the cockroach species I studied for my Ph.D : sexual communication in insects;  cockroaches were the insect tool. Actually when I saw John in China I spoke 15 min about the sexual phenomena on that insect. I had to bring on the subject in a book, but first she needs to do her appearance in the story. I decided that Eurocoty will be John's pet and he will give it to Aye Aye when traveling back to his alchemist world.I told you I knew many cockroach stories (hahahaha!)

How many more stories do you plan for the Musical Forest? It seems to me a project of unlimited possibilities with so many different animals.

Absolutely! I was trained as an Animal Biologist and Insect Pathologist and I want children to
know in a simple way the things I know; I want them to laugh too. I’ll always write children’s
stories since the animals are now free in the Musical Forest! When I read the story to children and they laugh at my illustrations, I laugh too. It means I can touch their hearts. There are no standards for laughter!

Will each story have a new lesson in ecology?
I want to give a human dimension to all I do. My books were sent to a bush school and wildlife orphanage in South Africa.  I’ll  spend a few months there. Every week children comeover; they learn to get to know their wildlife. Those kids don't have access to see wildlife and that makes a big part of their heritage! A great film maker and friend wants to do a documentary about the Aye Aye. It’s so awesome what's happening in my life right now! Ireconnected with real friends from the past, I mean decades ago. People with whom I lived amazing adventures and I never forgot. My friends : I have ideas from a very talented poet and artist 
Adiela; my friend Maria Clarita works with autistic children and she has been a great help.
Faride works for the Theater and is anartist too; we are discussing a puppet adaptation of one of my books. I heard through Eliana about an eco-ville she wants to establish. At first I laughed at the idea, but then I realized it was an interesting point and whatthey are doing in South Africa in that orphanage is very close to her ideal. So she will join me there and my nephew wants to come too! It’s going to be an awesome experience, I'm really looking forward to it!

Discuss briefly what inspires you most.

For me, inspiration has shades.  I have met and am still meeting many amazing characters; after traveling all around the world, I have developed an eye for detecting things that make me laugh : pathetic, nasty acts, envious comments, gossip, territorial things. It can be funny; gives me a good laugh! So, I like to reach into darkness to enlighten things. You see what I mean?.  On the other hand, kindness, caring, love, support,  sincerity totally influence and inspire me... nuance.   I get influenced and inspired from the good and the bad! You know, I like laughing at and mocking myself! You’ve got to keep a sense of humor !
Anything to report in your participation in the music world?

Besides this work I also have releases coming up on my label. Recordings I have already done with Marshall Allen from Sun Ra Arkestra and Elliott Levin plus another one with Elliott and David M. Hotep (also from Sun Ra Arkestra) with poetry of Trudy Morse. This was a project we planned with Trudy two years ago. It's going to be be available on Amazon this year. Also... I'm trying to help someone who really has an educational concept I like, and he should be known. There is so little money for Jazz in this country where the Jazz is considered an American art form! I love new music and avant garde, and I'm committed to it. It's for the sake of that music that I found my way!.

Tell me about the latest venture in Europe to help fund your concert/dance version of the first book next fall.

Continuing with what I just said about the music business, it’s hard to fund projects in the US.
It’s in Europe where artists make money. So, I went to Europe to find sponsors for the
Martha Graham Academy of Contemporary Dance choreography on The Extraordinary
Love Story of Aye Aye and Fedor . There will be live music, narration by a Hollywood Theater actor and also video installation from shootings of the orphanage in South Africa. We have scheduled our performance for winter 2014/2015.

Sum up your feelings.

At times this planet seems so unsettled, but being spiritual helps. I believe in my strength to do the work I like to do. I'm sharing it and in doing so, we are building treasures on Earth. I'm setting my hope on the treasures of creation - trees, animals, insects, children, wildlife, jazz, poetry, dance, theater, sunsets, stars-are wonders to my eyes, a balm to my heart. The world may pass away but affection doesn't... because it never fails. The rest is irrelevant.
This way of life is finally the true way, a very sweet and peaceful one. I totally have my feet planted on this path. I have found my Musical Forest to look through. A lifetime commitment!

No comments: