In North America, Europe and many other parts of the world, bee populations have plummeted 30-50% due to colony collapse disorder, a fact not lost on artist Aganetha Dyck who for years has been working with the industrious insects to create delicate sculptures using porcelain figurines, shoes, sports equipment, and other objects left in specially designed apiaries. As the weeks and months pass the ordinary objects are slowly transformed with the bees’ wax honeycomb. It’s almost impossible to look at final pieces without smiling in wonder, imagining the unwitting bees toiling away on a piece of art. And yet it’s our own ignorance of humanity’s connection to bees and nature that Dyck calls into question, two completely different life forms whose fate is inextricably intertwined.
Born in Manitoba in 1937, the Canadian artist has long been interested in inter-species communication and her research has closely examined the the ramifications of honeybees disappearing from Earth. Working with the insects results in completely unexpected forms which can be surprising and even humorous. “They remind us that we and our constructions are temporary in relation to the lifespan of earth and the processes of nature,” comments curator Cathi Charles Wherry. “This raises ideas about our shared vulnerability, while at the same time elevating the ordinariness of our humanity.”
If you want to learn more I suggest watching the video above from the Confederation Centre of the Arts, and if you want to see her work up close Dyck opens an exhibition titled Honeybee Alterations at the Ottawa School of Art on March 3, 2014. A huge thanks to Gibson Gallery as well as Aganetha and Deborah Dyck for their help. All photos courtesy Peter Dyck and William Eakin.