Encaustic image transfers on cradled board, with words from writers and thinkers.
The plight of the honeybee has been the stuff of headlines and news stories in recent years. There is a growing concern that the collapsing colonies of pollinators will have a regrettable impact on food supply and indeed on the human experience. Such a little creature, so easily forgotten and ignored, is garnering some attention at last.
This show is meant as a gentle visual reminder of the importance of bees, of their value over the generations, and of their fascinating ways. For thousands of years the bee has been revered, her honey cherished as food and ointment. Our cultural disconnect from food sources in the last century has put a rift between many of us and the mighty bee, a rift that I hope to diminish by a wing's width with each viewer of this work.
But in truth, my intentions with the show were not entirely altruistic. The selfish and curious part of me wanted to explore the work of the bees and the work of their keepers, their stewards. I wanted to know more, and I wanted to eat more honey. I wanted to surround myself with their buzz, and when the shooting was done I wanted to surround myself with the smell of their wax. Spending time at my kitchen table with photographs, wood, and wax was a welcome change from hours at the computer, the darkroom of the digital age. In that sense, this project has been an escape and a complete gift. I owe the bees (and CKCA, the funder for this project) no small part of my sanity this summer.
The text in this series came from the following quotes, poems, and excerpts.
“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
“What is happening to me happens to all fruits that grow ripe.
It is the honey in my veins that makes my blood thicker, and my soul quieter.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
“Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
For bees, the flower is the fountain of life;
For flowers, the bee is the messenger of love.
― Kahlil Gibran
What is this dark hum among the roses?
The bees have gone simple, sipping, that's all. What did you expect? Sophistication?
They're small creatures and they are filling their bodies with sweetness, how could they not moan in happiness?
The little worker bee lives, I have read, about three weeks.
Is that long? Long enough, I suppose, to understand that life is a blessing.
I have found them — haven't you? — stopped in the very cups of the flowers, their wings a little tattered — so much flying about, to the hive,then out into the world, then back, and perhaps dancing, should the task be to be a scout-sweet, dancing bee.
I think there isn't anything in this world I don't admire.
If there is, I don't know what it is.
I haven't met it yet. Nor expect to.
The bee is small, and since I wear glasses, so I can see the traffic and read books, I have to take them off and bend close to study and understand what is happening.
It's not hard, it's in fact as instructive as anything I have ever studied.
Plus, too, it's love almost too fierce to endure, the bee nuzzling like that into the blouse of the rose. And the fragrance, and the honey, and of course the sun, the purely pure sun, shining, all the while, over all of us.
― Mary Oliver, Hum
“In matters of evolution, nature will select for the ability to adapt and survive, not for maximum convenience to mankind.”
― Phil Chandler, The Barefoot Beekeeper
“I like pulling on a baggy bee suit, forgetting myself and getting as close to the bees' lives as they will let me, remembering in the process that there is more to life than the merely human.”
― Sue Hubbell, A Book of Bees: And How to Keep Them
“Smoke rolls and scarves in the grove.
The mind of the hive thinks this is the end of everything.
Here they come, the outriders, on their hysterical elastics.
If I stand very still, they will think I am cow-parsley,
A gullible head untouched by their animosity”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bee Meeting
You are the honey
Inside this honeycomb existence.
From your bright nothingness comes the taste of God.
Yes, I know you have your
moments of doubt.
But each one brings you closer
to the doubtless.
So throw caution to the wind
And dare to love
Even the bee’s sting.
― Adyashanti, My Secret is Silence
“They all seemed hungry, happy, and healthy enough in their buzzing—oh the days were hot, and the noise of bees filled the air that was dusty with pollen and sun haze, and there were tiny black flies stuck to one another crowded by the creek and a creek stink rising from the deep pool under the willow tree where a wheat sack of new kittens had been drowned, and their tiny terrible struggling had shot like an electric current through the confusion of muddy water and up the arm of the person who had tied the stone around the mouth of the sack and thrust it into the water; and the culprit had not been able to brush away the current; it penetrated her body and made her heart beat with fear and pity. I was the culprit.”
― Janet Frame, Scented Gardens for the Blind
“The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.”
― Henry David Thoreau
Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
— Proverbs 16:24
“There is one masterpiece, the hexagonal cell, that touches perfection.
No living creature, not even man, has achieved, in the centre of his sphere, what the bee has achieved in her own: and were some one from another world to descend and ask of the earth the most perfect creation of the logic of life, we should have to offer the humble comb of honey.”
― Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life Of The Bee, 1924