December 2, 2013

Sarah Hatton and Bees

Over the past weekend A very dear friend of mine came to visit me. We had a wonderful time together staying up late and having a three hour breakfast at the kitchen table. At one point I was telling her about my We are all in this together project. Her eyes got wide and she sat up straight in her chair patiently waiting for me to finish my sentence. “Can you paint a honey bee?!” she asked me with apparent excitement.

“…ummm well, maybe, is it related?” I answered. Despite anyone’s passion, I want to stick to my theme of climate change.

“Yes!” she replied. She went on to tell me a great and very local reason why the honey bee would be perfect for my project. My friend is a new and avid bee-keeper and loves to talk to anyone about them who will listen. Her passion is not held by her alone.

Bees are integral and essential to plant pollination around the world. Along with other animals such as butterflies, moths, other insects, bats, and birds, bees have co-evolved with flowering plants. In many cases the plants rely on the these creatures for pollination and reproduction. The symbiotic relationship is a beautiful one, but it is also extremely fragile, prone to upsets at even the smallest of changes.  

Over the past decade or so, the accounts of colony collapse disorder have increased in North America and Europe sparking environmental, social and economic concern. The phenomenon itself, which is a when the worker bees of a colony suddenly disappear, is not new, but its increased frequency is a cause for concern. There are a few possible causes of colony collapse disorder including pathogens, fungus, mites, and malnutrition. Many experts, including the European Food Safety Authority, are attributing the recent increase in colony collapse on the use of modern pesticides. 

This issue is complex and still being studied to be fully understood. One person who picked up on this multidimensional and international issue is Sarah Hatton. A visual artist who predominantly works in paint, branched out to create her body of work called "Bees". 

Here is the statement of "Bees" from Hatton herself:

The link between neonicotinoid pesticides and the worldwide decline of bee populations is a crisis that cannot be ignored.
I have arranged thousands of dead honeybees in mathematical patterns symbolically linked to monoculture crops, such as the Fibonacci spiral found in the seed head of the sunflower.

The viewer experiences the vertigo of this lifeless swarm, a dizzying optical illusion that echoes the bees’ loss of ability to navigate due to the toxins locked within the very source of their sustenance.

Sarah Hatton in front of her Bee work

Hatton's Bee piece

Hatton's Bee piece

Hatton's Bee piece

Bees from Hatton's piece