Swarming Bees

Holly S. Murray
2005

As a starting point for my work, I gather images from old medical journals, agricultural imagery and other assorted images that resonate for me in some way. I use images of automatists as a metaphor for effects of bio-genetics modification. I layer images, often on a repeating pattern, like wallpaper. Wallpaper was at one time in western culture a way of an emerging middle-class to show wealth or “good breeding”. I use it to indicate complicity for the desire to have the best of what science can offer. Presently, genetic enhancement is the standard in all living things.

Having recently traveled in Asian areas, I am aware that the debate concerning science and bio-genetics is somewhat euro-centric in it's critique. Many places in the world are in need of any kind of food. However, presently we have “the terminator”, a rice produced solely for export to less developed countries which when sewn will not produce seed that will reseed. The farmer is required to keep coming back to buy more seed, destroying the age old practice of saving some of last years seed for next years crop. I am constantly studying, revising and reassessing the dialog of my art, what to speak of and how to say it visually.

I have come to the bees as my current study. Along with examining agricultural production and bio-genetic concerns, I am searching for a metaphorical solution, the bee seems perfect. Bees work cooperatively together for the good of the whole. Yet even in the bee community, there are deadly risks. English bees were brought to this country in the last century to help native hives become well behaved and domesticated. English bees have been greatly reduced by environmental poisons and bad agricultural practices. Ironically, we are presently importing Russian queens to reinvigorate the hives. Bees are essential to our agricultural well being and to our lives

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