Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Current Artist Statement for Hacock show

Approximately a year ago, I set out to get back into the studio. I cleared out our spare bedroom and set up a work area. I proposed to create a body of work entitled “Icarus Rising: Lessons from the Bees”. This would be an exploration of encaustic and mixed media beeswax collage. I proposed to create at least a piece a week for the next year, and I would take something new in to show my advanced high school art students each Friday.

In a way, it is a sequel to a body of work I made 10 years ago that explored the topic of early flight and heroes. Essentially, I built objects of transformation including a flying machine for my alter-ego, the absurd hero. The work was large and installation oriented…and showed at the Omphale in September 1998. Honey and beeswax were used in this show, but in a more conceptual manner rather than an exploration of the media.

This body of work is more intimate in scale. The pieces are an exploration of the media and detail oriented. Images used depict beekeepers, the history of beekeeping, and the lore surrounding this collaboration between humans and nature, and human interrelationships. The sacred and sensual aspect of honey and beeswax was an area of interest as well. For me, this is kind of a personal return to the “quest”, the rising of Icarus whose wings failed him because the wax holding them together melted when he flew too close to the sun.

I tried to allow myself to work intuitively through this project. Sometimes the research led the work, sometimes the work led me to research new topics. Some pieces are a reflection of things that happened in my life this past year, and others are a playful exploration of the media. I usually have several pieces going at once and come back to them when I have a block of time….sometimes I worked in streaks on the weekends or vacations.

the Melissae:
Melissa means “honeybee” and there is a passage in “The Shamanic Way of the Bee” by Simon Buxton which reads: “the melissae had a curious similarity in build; they were without exception athletic, all sharing a wiry leanness but with no loss of female shape”. This gave me the idea to create a series of these female forms that would represent different seasons, emotions, or personalities.

Where I’m from, Anna, and Jeanne:
All worker bees are female…and the queen bee is female too. Each colony has very few male bees who’s only job or purpose in life is to mate with the queen and in doing so, die. This led me to think about the matriarchs in my family and our lineage.
Queen Cages
After taking the beginning beekeeping class, I became enamored with the form of the queen cage. Each colony comes with a queen that is kept in a separate cage for several days called a queen cage. I bought 100 and began exploring them as a sculptural form, but also the symbolism is still relevant.
Boxes and Icons
Boxes reference the work of Joseph Cornell, American Artist, but also the beehive itself. People used to keep their treasures in the family beehive so that they would not be stolen (Eva Crane). The icons are a reference to my childhood and growing up around these images, but also represent the sacred aspect of wax and honey. These items are both comforting and whimsical to me and conjure a sense of wonderment.

In addition to this being a personal journey to get back into art making, I am hoping that this project will bring awareness to the recent plight of the honeybee and surrounding industry. According to some scientists, the honeybee disappearance may be a more urgent issue than global warming, because 1/3 or our food supply is pollinated by honeybees. The Apis Melifera is a “keystone” species, meaning that we are not aware of all that it does for the human race. It is the stone in the arch that keep the sides together.

Seeing that I have found myself living on a 38 acre farm surrounded by fields in Mass City, it seemed perfect to raise honeybees, something I had always been intrigued with. This spring my husband and I got 2 colonies of bees and began our adventure of beekeeping.
May sweetness and light be with you always…

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