The Buzz Stops Here

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Š Art.Science.Gallery. 2015 cover design + layout by H. Gillespie all images are Š by the artists and are used here by permission

916 Springdale Rd. Building 2 #102 Austin, TX 78702 512.522.8278

THE BUZZ STOPS HERE an exhibition of encaustic artwork about the science and conservation of bees

Art.Science.Gallery. Austin, TX

in partnership with

International Encaustic Artists April 18 - May 30, 2015


REPURPOSING THE ARCHITECTURE OF INSECTS Art has substance, literally. This substance, or medium, can take any form, including products manufactured by fellow animals. Of the world’s animal-derived media, it is the wax of honey bees (Apis spp.) that has most profoundly impacted artists, particularly those creating encaustics. The honey bee is a builder and an architect, and the wax comb constructed by a society of honey bees transcends a bodily product; it serves as the substrate that houses and shelters brood and food, and the platform for all of the nest activities, including dancing, which can communicate the location of food to nestmates. Artists have resourcefully sampled from countless humans and nonhuman animals in the pursuit of their creations. Artists have used living and dead bodies, body parts, organs, tissues, cells, bodily fluids (blood, excreta, carminic acid in cochineal extract) and outgrowths (feathers, nails, hair). Examples of such works include ant colonies displacing colored sand, a preserved shark in a tank, the incorporation of tanned pig hides, and textiles dyed with cochineal. At least as innovative a pursuit can be the co-opting of animal products that were originally secreted or constructed for use by the animals themselves. Some animals secrete bodily fluids that supply nutrition, or that protect their own bodies. Artists sample nutritious secretions when taking milk from cows (casein paint; Le Luxe II by Henri Matisse) or honey from honey bees (binder, or main focus of work; Honey Pump by Joseph Beuys 1). Entire museums house art made of exudates produced by insects to protect themselves, including silk from moths 2,3 and lacquer from lac bugs 4,5. Many nonhuman animals are architects 6, and artists occasionally collaborate with these

architects or appropriate their creations, using the silk-woven cases constructed by caddisfly larvae 7, the cocoons of silkworm moths 8, webs of spiders 9,10, paper nests of wasps 11, and nests of birds 12. The architecture of innumerable other animals holds unrealized potential for the human artist, from mud dauber wasp nests to beaver dams. Of all the animal sources for art media, many of which arise from insects 13-15, it is the wax comb of honey bees that is the most versatile, malleable, and magnificent of nonhuman animal constructs. Wax can be melted, reshaped, sculpted, pigmented, and indefinitely reused. A wax work can encase elements, or resemble a palimpsest in its layered translucency. Stingless bees (e.g., Trigona spp.) produce wax as nest construction material that has been used in rock art and figurines in Australia 16,17 and pre-Columbian sculpture using the lost-wax process in Latin America 18. Honey bees (Apis spp.), however, produce the intricate combs of wax much of the world associates with beeswax (Figs. 1,2), and to which encaustics owes its greatest debt.

Figure 1. Freshly constructed wax comb by Western honey bees (Apis mellifera). Photograph by Barrett Klein.

Figure 2. Parallel sheets of comb with honey bees (A. mellifera). Photograph by Barrett Klein.

What begins as scales, produced from eight wax glands and projecting from the bellies of honey bee workers (Fig. 3), is the material that has lit cathedrals for centuries, sealed goods from food to formal decrees, and made possible art techniques that have helped shape our appreciation of the world. Western honey bee (A. mellifera) wax primarily consists of hydrocarbons and esters, but includes an estimated 300 chemical constituents 19. Paired wax glands produce scales, each of which is extracted from a pocket on the underside of the abdomen by spines forming a brush on the hind leg 20. Wax is passed from hind leg to mouth, where the bee chews wax clumps until softened before adding them to the comb 21. Wax production is costly, with 1,100 scales yielding one gram 22 and one gram yielding 20 cm 2 of comb surface 23. Art.Science.Gallery., under the direction of Hayley Gillespie, and International Encaustic Artists (IEA) have partnered to assemble The Buzz Stops Here, an exhibit focusing on the science and conservation of bees in which encaustic artists reflect on the very material with which

their art is primarily defined. Seventeen pieces by twelve artists are featured. Each piece concerns bees and uses hot wax painting in some form. How an artist used beeswax varied, with artists either (1) recycling, by presenting a modified version of the original wax comb, (2) replicating, manufacturing a replica of the comb, or (3) repurposing the wax with no evidence of the original comb structure. All three approaches are on display in this exhibit, sometimes in combination. Recycling of actual comb exists most conspicuously in three works, each of which uses an apiculturist’s frame as canvas. Patti Akesson’s Waggle Dance (Angle) and Waggle Dance (Pattern) each display schematic representations of a honey bee’s waggle dance, in which a forager can communicate to her nestmates the direction and distance to an advertised site, while Beate Kratt’s Traces offers a more philosophical look at the lives of the bees. Replication, or biomimicry, is uniquely represented by Candace Law’s Seeking Insight II, with a human attempt to learn from and duplicate honey bees’ comb-building engineering feat. The remaining works have repurposed the comb by using the melted wax to convey bee-related messages.

Figure 3. Honey bee (A. mellifera) with wax scales projecting from the ventral side of her metasoma (posterior body region), against white (left) and in a hive (right). Photographs by Helga Heilmann, photographer with the BEEgroup, University of Würzburg (

Art.Science.Gallery. and IEA have composed an exhibit thematically concentrating on the science and conservation of bees during a time when bee species are under notable threat by a suite of stress-inducing factors, including parasites, pesticides, and lack of flowers 24. Many of the artists’ works reflect a concern based on these factors. Among these, Erin Anfinson imaginatively depicts fantastical visions of parasitism in the Collapse series and Harriette Tsosie offers a pesticide-haunted elegy to honey bees in The Dead Bee Scrolls Triptych. The Buzz Stops Here represents a variety of perspectives and inspirations tied to bees, well beyond the threat of colony collapse disorder and bees’ declining health. Barbara Walton found inspiration by directly observing a swarm of honey bees for three days (Swarm #1 and Swarm #2). Anastessia Bettas found her direction when researching a scientific account of honey bee navigation by Cheeseman et al. 25 (Bee Journey). Taking a completely different approach, Phaedra Taylor chose to probe the rich folklore and fairy tales of honey bees to produce her dreamlike Telling the Bees. It may be worth noting the fitting irony that melting down one of nature’s grandest works of engineering and architecture is at the core of creating each work of encaustics. The beautiful works celebrating the lives and plight of bees in this exhibit are a testament to our appreciation of the pollinators, the honey-makers, and the architects who form societies that, in some ways, are more highly derived than our own. Art can educate and inspire, and by recycling, replicating, or repurposing the very material produced by species in trouble, artists can more intimately explore issues and challenges we all face in an environmentally uncertain future. BARRETT ANTHONY KLEIN University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

REFERENCES 1. Beuys J. 1997. Honey is flowing in all directions. Heidelberg, Edition Staeck, unpaged. 2. China National Silk Museum. <URL:>. Accessed 4 April 2015. 3. The National Silk Art Museum. <URL:>. Accessed 4 April 2015. 4. Museum of Lacquer Art M端nster. <URL:>. Accessed 4 April 2015. 5. Wajima Museum of Lacquer (Urushi) Art. <URL:>. Accessed 4 April 2015. 6. von Frisch K. 1974. Animal Architecture. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., New York, NY, USA. 7. Duprat H, Besson C. 1998. The wonderful caddis worm: sculptural work in collaboration with Trichoptera. Leonardo. 31:173177. 8. Kadonaga K. 2001. Kazuo Kadonaga. Los Angeles, CA, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. 48pp. 9. Cassirer I. 1956. Paintings on cobwebs. Natural History. 65:202-220. 10. Bristowe WS. 1974. Art on a cobweb. Animals. 16:62. 11. Paperwasp, by Kristian Brevik. In: ECLOSION: a juried group exhibition of insect-inspired art. Art.Science.Gallery., Austin, TX, USA. p.37. <URL: docs/eclosioncatalogue>. Accessed 4 April 2015. 12. Curtis E. 1983. Joseph Cornell: Dime store connoisseur. Archives of American Art Journal. 23:13-20. 13. Hubbell S. 1987. Onward and Upward with the Arts. The New Yorker. 63 (Nov-Dec):79-89.

14. Klein BA. 2003. Par for the palette: Insects and arachnids as art media. In: Insects in Oral Literature and Traditions. MotteFlorac, E. and J.M.C. Thomas, eds. Peeters, Paris, France. <URL:>. Accessed 4 April 2015. 15. Klein BA. 2007. Insects in Art. In: Encyclopedia of HumanAnimal Relationships: A Global Exploration of Our Connections with Animals. Bekoff, M., ed. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, USA. 1:92-99. <URL:>. Accessed 4 April 2015. 16. Brandl E. 1968. Aboriginal rock designs in beeswax and description of cave painting sites in western Arnhem Land. Archaeology & Physical Anthropology in Oceania. 3:19-29. 17. Langley MC, Taçon, PSC. 2010. The age of Australian rock art: a review. Australian Archaeology. 71:70-73. 18. Crane E. 1983. The Archaeology of Beekeeping. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, USA. 19. Tulloch AP. 1980. Beeswax – composition and analysis. Bee World. 61:47-62. 20. Snodgrass RE. 1956. Anatomy of the Honey Bee. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca, NY, USA. ` 21. More D. 1976. The Bee Book. Universe Books, New York, NY, USA. 22. Brown RH. 1981. Beeswax, 2nd ed. Bee Books New and Old, Burrowbridge, Somerset, UK. 23. Seeley TD. 1985. Honeybee Ecology: A Study of Adaptation in Social Life. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA. 24. Goulson D, Nicholls E, Botías C, Rotheray EL. 2015. Bee declines driven by combined stress from parasites, pesticides, and lack of flowers. Science. 347. DOI: 10.1126/science.1255957 25. Cheeseman JF, Millar CD, Greggers U, Lehmann K, Pawley MDM, Gallistel CR, Warman GR, Menzel R. 2014. Way-finding in displaced clock-shifted bees proves bees use a cognitive map. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 111:8949-8954.


Waggle Dance (Angle), above Waggle Dance (Pattern), below Encaustic, pigment, hive frame 45.7 cm x 24.1 cm (each) 2015 Ever since being shown the inside of a beehive I have wanted to use a real frame for a substrate, which I have done in this piece. I have always found honeybees compelling because some of them are tasked with “dancing”, as I have also done most of my life. Unlike humans, the honeybees have a very exact and distinct reason for their “dance”, indicating to other honey bees, using angles, the location of vital nectar stores in the surrounding area. If it were not for their communication through the “Waggle Dance”, the colony would not survive.

ERIN ANFINSON Murfreesboro, TN

Collapse 5 Encaustic drawing on paper (heated pen and encaustic monotype) 25.4 cm x 30.48 cm (each) 2008 This series of encaustic drawings explores my concern with the unexplained decline in honeybee populations. Colony Collapse Disorder is an umbrella term for suspect pathologies including fungus, mites, and viral infections that may be responsible for the disappearing bees. Inspired by 19th century illustrations of parasitic-like creatures, I created these drawings in an attempt to amplify the suggestion that the bees are being overtaken by something absurd and elusive.Â

Collapse 8

Collapse 9


Ascension Mixed media using encaustic with photos & carving 76.2 cm x 50.8 cm 2015 The physics of bee flight is more exotic than thought and is inspiring the development of flying micro robots. Their delicate wing structures allow bees to hover, carry heavy cargo and ventilate the hive. This installation delights in the beautiful wing design, the mystery of flight, swarm cooperation and the discovery of coins depicting bees from the 7th century BC.


Bee Journey Encaustic on wood panel 40.6 x 40.6 cm 2015 This painting is based on an experiment by Dr. James F. Cheeseman on whether honey bees have a metric cognitive map. Bees often depart from their hives or home vectors in a compass direction which is determined by reference to the sun.


Lost II Encaustic monotype collage with graphite, ink and watercolor on kozo paper 22.9 x 30.5 cm 2015 Honey bees pollinate nearly one third of the plants we eat. Studies show certain types of pesticides affect a bee's learning and memory. Bees learn to communicate the direction of rich sources of pollen to their hive in the angles of their specialized waggle dance. In polluting their environment we disrupt this delicate dance of nature. Humans have a responsibility to eliminate Colony Collapse Disorder, which is killing off a key partner to maintaining a healthy environment.


Golden Harmony Natural bees wax, encaustic, sculpted wax, ink drawing, intarsia 30.5 x 30.5 cm 2015 From ancient times the genus Apis, the social honey bee, has inspired fables and poetry. They were venerated by Kings and Queens, and lavishly adored for the sweet golden substance that is a result of a collective community of one of earth’s oldest insects. Nature would not survive without this prolific pollinator and artists would not have been able to create the centuries old Fayum paintings. Their wax is the artists’ golden gift. Every encaustic art piece produced honors the plight of this buzzing wonder.

BEATE KRATT Hamburg, Germany

Traces Digital collage incorporated into encaustic and a honeycomb, acrylic 48.26 x 22.9 cm 2015 Traces are leftovers in time. Often carefully displayed and with a story behind. An empty honeycomb and the essence of the last bee’s dance captured in a jar. In future, a memory of a time where the buzz of bees belongs to life. In present, a reminder that we have to react now, to make sure that the buzz will go on! A digital collage incorporated into layers of encaustic and embedded in a real honeycomb. The work is covered with clear acrylic on both sides, not only for protection, but to deepen the notion of a collection for science purposes.


Seeking Insight II Encaustic mixed media, found objects 22.9 x 30.4 cm 2015 As Science continues to study Nature and all her various inhabitants, can it improve on the master plan? Or will it just reinvent for our own convenience, unwittingly changing and destroying the inherent beauty and functionality already in place. The plight of the bees suggests we are not learning fast enough and may be doing more damage than good.Â


Honeycomb Conjecture 1 & 2 Mixed Encaustic (Venetian plaster, pastel, encaustic on wood) 45.7 x 45.7 cm 2015 The mathematical and engineering theories surrounding the construction of honeycombs have fascinated humans for centuries. Evidence of this interest dates back to the ancient Greeks. The bee’s use of the hexagon shape to efficiently assemble their honeycombs to make the most of their energy and resources intrigues me. As an encaustic painter, I have found that the unique challenges of working with molten wax have compelled me to simplify subject matter and to focus on fundamentals.


Telling The Bees Encaustic painting on wood panel 121.9 x 91.4 cm 2015 Bees have been the subject of a vast number of fairytales and superstitions. Honey, revered for its medicinal properties, is often given as a gift from the gods or sought in the farthest corners of their realm. “Telling the Bees,” where local news was shared with the hive, is a practice that was deeply engrained in the life of medieval communities. My image, rich in layers of texture and line drawing, aims to offer a moment to consider the healing truth embedded in this folklore, and to delight in the way knowledge is often known intuitively before it’s discovered scientifically.



The Dead Bee Scrolls Triptych Archival ink, pastels, encaustic on kozo paper 152.4 x 175.26 cm 2015 The scrolls triptych is an elegy for the honey bees, whose decline and colony collapse was precipitated in part by widespread application of systemic pesticides known as neonicotinoids, (“neonics”). “Neonics” are long lived, persistent, synthetic forms of nicotine, toxic to insects. They interfere with the bees’ ability to navigate and to produce queen bees for the hives. The scrolls are a metaphor for the hive and depict progressive collapse as the pesticides wreak havoc.


Swarm #1 & Swarm #2 Beeswax, encaustic pigment, photo transfer, oil painted on to baltic birch panel 60.9 x 60.9 cm (each) 2009, 2011 These paintings relate to a wild swarm that attached itself to a backyard redbud tree. During these three days, I was able to closely observe their activity while the bee scouts searched for a more secure, permanent home. I was able to get close enough to these bees to photograph them. Â Had I been aware at the time that a swarm is gentle enough to carefully put a hand into it, I may have worked up the courage to do exactly that. I have been blessed by many episodes of synchronicity with bees since I began experimenting with beeswax in 2002.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS My friend and encaustic artist Inés Batlló planted the seed for this exhibit, which I dedicate to her, with wishes for a safe and happy return to Austin soon. This exhibition would not have been possible without the support and leadership of Lola Baltzell, Exhibitions Director, Melissa Lackman, Chief Business Officer, and Deborah Lambert, Chief Operations Officer, of International Encaustic Artists, as well as Sarah St. Laurent of local IEA chapter Austin Wax. I was infinitely pleased to work with my friend and colleague Dr. Barrett Klein for this exhibition. Many thanks for the hours of hard work they each put in to make this exhibition and associated programming a success! Thanks also to gallery intern Azeen Anjum for curating a lovely selection of bee-centric art, gifts and books for the gallery’s gift shop for this exhibit. In an effort to assist honey bee populations by acting locally, we are pleased to be donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Azeen’s collection, this catalogue, and artwork from the exhibit to the Sustainable Food Center’s new Teaching Apiary, scheduled for installation in the SFC Teaching Garden in fall 2015. All may be viewed and purchased at This exhibit also brought with it the opportunity to forge new relationships and collaborate with friends, including our first pop-up dinner with Apis Restaurant & Apiary and Keith Kreeger Studios as well as encaustic art demonstrations by members of Austin Wax. My heartfelt thanks to all involved for making this an exhibit to remember.

HAYLEY GILLESPIE, Ph.D. founder / ecologist / artist Art.Science.Gallery. (Austin, TX)

JUROR Barrett Klein, Ph.D. EXHIBITION PARTNERS International Encaustic Artists Austin Wax Apis Restaurant & Apiary BEVERAGE SPONSOR Genius Gin BENEFICIARY The Sustainable Food Center SPECIAL THANKS Sari Albornoz Azeen Anjum Lola Baltzell Inés Batlló Katherine Berkeley Adam Brick Anna Geiselman Missy Gillespie Taylor & Casie Hall Keith Kreeger Melissa Lackman Deborah Lambert Sarah St.Laurent Ginny Headley Maserang Samantha Melvin Betsy Murphy Amanda Sprague Mikaila & D’Andra Ulmer


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