Sunday, May 16, 2010

Earth, Air, Fire, Water: Lessons from the Hive

Earth, Air, Fire, Water: Lessons from the Hive
2D and 3D explorations in mixed media and encaustics
Melissa Hronkin
Marquette Arts and Culture Center, Marquette, MI
July 1st-30th, 2010
“Our most important pollinator, the ultimate synergist, an architect, spatial genius, winged apothecary, and the transmuter of the finest substance of nectar into honey”, is the description that Rose-Lynn Fisher gives to the honeybee in the forward to her photographic book called “Bee”. “The honeybee symbolizes and embodies a congruency of form and function, vision and action, spirit and matter, all being of the same essence.” I have always been fascinated with alchemy and thinking of the artist as alchemist, and the honeybee also does this. They spin gold.
As an artist, teacher, and beekeeper, I go about my days open to the lessons my life’s work has to teach me. A fascination with bees led me to experiment and explore the art of encaustic painting, and how this relates to the content of my artwork.
This current body of work is an accumulation of 3 years of artistic exploration. It began with “Icarus Rising”, which was my symbolic return to art making after a long break from the studio, due to public school teaching. That sparked another body of work: “Wintering: Into the Hive” which was a winter show. It was an exploration of hibernation, repose, survival, and hope. Elements of each of these series appear in the current show “Earth, Air, Fire, Water.” I have taken a lot of leaps artistically and in my life. My husband and I started a honey/hive product business, we bought a historical church to operate our business out of, and this also allowed me a bigger studio space where I could try to regain my wings, and work a lot larger and installation minded.
It is always a dialogue in the studio: sometimes I lead the work, sometimes objects and elements lead me to the next sculpture or artwork. This intuitive process and being open to “chance” is where the alchemy occurs. I collect, read, and surround myself with information that seems important. Then I have to put the time in and be open to the lessons that are all around us.
I offer this work in hope, respect, and gratitude for all that I have learned from “the hive”….whether a hive of bees or students, the stings and sweat are just part of the journey. The interconnectedness of humans and nature has emerged as an important theme in this body of work. I started out trying to represent individual elements with certain pieces, but the artwork taught me that everything is connected: water is dependent upon air, earth on water, fire on earth, and so on.
“The beehive is one of the most successful ways in which the purpose of life has ever been organized….you can almost detect the purpose of life as you stand in the honey-drift downwind…if I just stand there long enough watching the bees…perhaps I’ll understand the purpose of life too”. --Verlyn Klingenborg

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