Honeybee Modernism

These works were made by placing delicate wax sculptures into hives full of honeybees for them to pull out into comb.  The original structure remains mostly intact, while the bees often add surprise edits and reconstructions.  The works are then removed from the hive and combined with other materials to make the final sculpture, often materials that reference architecture or have been altered by other insects.

Swoop
Swoop

2012 14” x 8” x 8” Honeycomb, Beeswax, Rope, Brick Clay This work represents the culmination of two years of research into attempting to work with the bees. My initial interest was sparked by the grave issue of Colony Collapse Disorder, which is currently wiping out nearly a third of United States Beehives each winter. The brick clay was made and fired at the Belden Brick Factory, as a human architectural counterpoint to the bees’ delicate homes.

Architecture
Architecture

2012 8" x 9" x 9" Honeycomb, Beeswax, Wood, Brick Clay I eventually discovered that if I made a sculpture with sheets of thin wax, the bees would pull the form from 2 dimensions into three while still maintaining much of the original form. There are surprises as well, when the bees make holes or restructure something more to their liking, so it is a true collaboration, albeit with different motives.

Soar
Soar

2012 10” x 5” x 5” Honeycomb, Electroplated Copper, Lacewood, Beeswax One joy in working this way is the opportunity to combine natural materials in a way that enhances the textures and qualities of both. In this case, I chose to have the bees build on a length of copper wire that was “grown” in an electroplating bath. The color and texture echoed the Lacewood base, which exhibits a similar cell structure to the honeycomb.

Red Eye
Red Eye

2012 14” x 10” x 10” Honeycomb, Beeswax, Brick Clay, Rope, Copper Wire A late season discovery that I am looking forward to exploring more in the future was the addition of color via colored bits of wax that were stuck on to the structure prior to placing it in the hive. The color began as a hard-edged square, but became diffused throughout the comb as a lovely stain.

Wrinkled
Wrinkled

2012 10” x 6” x 5” Honeycomb, Muslin, Beeswax, Brick Clay Much of my exploration involved different supports and prompts for the bees to build. By wrinkling the muslin and dipping it in wax in places, the bees were encouraged to build a different kind of form, with interesting variations in the comb. Where the muslin was left bare, they attempted to destroy it, chewing it into fuzzy threads.

Eaten
Eaten

2012 6” x 6” x 8” Honeycomb, Electroplated Copper, Insect Damaged Cherry Wood Through this process, I’ve become interested in other insects actions on the world around them. Pairing the honeycomb with the destroyed Cherry, eaten by bugs, shows the two sides of creation and destruction that artists employ while providing a textural echo to the bee-built forms.