Hailing from Canada, and the recipient of numerous awards, Aganetha Dyck is an artist of a slightly different color; she is, in short, an environmentalist, and her most recent works concern in particular the plight of bees. She questions what would happen – not just to humans, as a species, but to all life in our ecosystem, should bees die out. It’s a hot button issue, and one that’s perhaps been neglected by the art world.
She might not be said to work alone, though. In fact, she collaborates with dozens and dozens of others – all of them bees. Cleverly manipulating their natural proclivity to build honeycomb, along with apiary feeder boards and hive blankets (if you’re not entirely sure what these are, ask your local beekeeper), Dyck fuses man-made inorganics such as lamp bases and ceramic figurines with the organic geometry of the bees’ handiwork.
The results are surprisingly varied, all of which can be seen in her online galleries. They range from incredible sculptural structures, all waxy labyrinth and molten gold, that wouldn’t look out of place in some old-fashioned, traditional effects-laden science-fiction film, all the way through to vintage junk covered in beeswax to various degrees, looking like the dead relics of a bygone age, forgotten by humans and re-appropriated by the bees. The most recent pieces, those incorporating feeder boards, are perhaps those more obviously tied in to her motivation, evoking as they do ruin, sparsity, neglect, and even – with their thin vertical strips of runged beeswax – bones. The message is never hammered home, never delivered heavy-handedly – after all, Dyck is an explorer, a questioner, not a preacher – but the suggestion is clear: we ought to be thinking very carefully about how we treat our bees; the lives of our two very different species, as well as those of other species, are more entwined than we perhaps realize.
So the next time we’re at the store and pick up a jar of honey, a beeswax candle, or bar of chocolate flecked with honeycomb pieces, let’s take a moment to reflect on where those materials come from and the debt we owe to those small, but far from insignificant creatures we so often overlook. And not only the bees, for a message of conservation and compassion for other species doesn’t stop there; we’re all part of the same, global, interconnected ecosystem. It’s not a new message, and perhaps it’s not a very trendy one, but artists like Dyck provide us with new and stimulating tools for considering its deeper implications.