Navigation…

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…focuses upon the the determination of position or direction. And its occupying our present state of mind.

BV as we like to call her is navigating her way across the states to the final destination in Osceola, WI. If all goes as planned we’ll reconnect very soon. She is in tow with a few other characters one of which is a machine for a bakery in WI. Quite appropriate given the importance of both art and baked goods in life.

One of the first attributes of certain pollinators that we were compelled to integrate into our sculpture was — the compound eye.  Bees have five eyes (that’s right ). Two of their peepers are compound eyes which enable them to see beyond the ultra violet spectrum. Why is this important you might ask? Well, it’s how they find organic partners rich in pollen and nectar. This attribute along with the sun is their navigation instrument.

Amazing right?! Compose yourself, it gets even better. Under a microscope the surface of their compound eyes are visible. Hexagons people. Thousands of visual receptors shaped like hexagons. No lie. I have a whole new frame of reference for the term “more then meets the eye”.

Here’s a peak into our salute to the extraordinary vision of bees, we have created three compound eyes for our sculpture. Yes we know — one more then a bee.  Quite simply we developed compound eye envy. So, one for us too. We want to see like a bee!

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107 degrees, color me violet and packing/palletizing this bee sculpture for a journey to the midwest

20170901_141502.jpgSo… LA is having this massive heat wave and both Joy and I are having to sweat it out to finish the final touches on this sculpture before it get’s shipped to Wisconsin.  It is 107 degrees right now and that makes it tricky to paint, to attach concrete elements and pretty much everything else.

Honestly, the process of making a sculpture is like a winding wheel with no brake going up and down hills.  Problem solving is par for the course… but things become a little more difficult when the temperature of the ambient is set for cooking eggs and gulping down massive quantities of water.

Thankfully, we are nearly there and this overly ambitious creation is about to hit the road.

 

Color is hard- especially when you don’t know the exact environment the sculpture will be placed in.  Is the blue too bright?  or just right.  Joy and I may have to finesse the color scheme after installation to make sure it meshes well with the location.  But, did you know that bee’s see only in the ultraviolet spectrum? … and that is the color palette that we are using for our sculpture.  No reds.  No reds?  Roses aren’t red but violets are blue. When we were doing research for this project this video really struck a chord with us… check out the video-  Pollinator Vision.

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I often joke around about how I should have been a painter or a miniaturist.  How that might be easier… Transportation of large scale sculpture is difficult and not inexpensive.  This is something that I think a lot of viewers might take for granted.  Even though I spent a large part of my life living in the MN/WI area, I now live in Portland and Joy lives in LA.  So to get a sculpture to WI from CA means putting modular elements on pallets and then putting them on a partial truck that will eventually make its way to the organic farm in Osceola.

Right now the paint has to dry a little more before we hoist the elements onto eight separate pallets and then strap them on with metal bands and wrap contact points.  The concrete elements are going to have an even harder journey.  With the cure time and material quality issues, the concrete might crack or break.  Joy got a lot of bubble wrap and foam mat to help those element out.  We are both going to be crossing our fingers in hopes of a smooth journey across half of the country.   20170901_141454.jpg

Cross your fingers for us too!

~over and out
Bridget

Plant-biased.

My diet is primarily plant based and my mind is completely plant biased…especially when it comes to my artistic inspiration.

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In an earlier post I “announced” our self-imposed design category for Beyond Violet as “industrial organic.” What does that mean? It’s open for interpretation of course, but it’s absolutely what you get when you collide BB and JF to make a sculpture. I relate much in life to a good solid rendering of a Venn diagram, it’s kind of how I determine if something feels “right”. You know…should I do this? Can I envision it in a Venn? If the answer is yes, I’m usually game. I’m a sucker for the magic that happens in the intersection of parts/influences that come together.

Before my hands touched ink, metal, glass, concrete, clay, paper…they touched the earth. As a kid I was a digger, planter and a trekker and in the adult incarnation of myself I have not strayed much beyond this descriptive. Some kids had pet goldfish, I had pet plants and a full set of mini gardening tools by the time I was 5 thanks to my Nana.

I can say without hesitation that the reason I create art is a force of nature. Mother Nature is my instigator. Offering an endless expanse of texture, shape, colour, infrastructure and awe — it repeatedly stops me in my tracks —every single day. Art is my gateway to communicate the intricacies, phenomenons and transformations that exist in the natural environment — an infinite source of inspiration.

For “Beyond Violet” I chose to get my Medusa on to interpret the art of pollination. I’ve spent the last months creating a narrative cast in concrete to be integrated into our steel and aluminum sculpture. BB and I have a strong affinity for these materials together in sculptural form, combining them was our vision from day 1 for the sculpture.

Site specific, subject specific art — nothing that I love more. And for this sculpture, I’ve loved every minute of being consumed by this framework. Essentially its given me free license to become even more of a nerd about the environment’s organic canvas —peering deeper into the botany of plants…the anatomy & behavior of pollinators…and aim to capture my awe of it all – by way of art.

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One of the most challenging aspects was narrowing down the expanse of options (both plants and pollinator) and then determining how to recreate and configure these elements in concrete and attach them to the sculpture. There were some rather lengthy days of analysis paralysis. Those are frustrating ones…but always lead to a breakthrough at some juncture. And eventually I was able to narrow down a selection of plants and pollinator interpretations that became Beyond Violet’s cast of characters… all shaped, textured, configured by forces of nature with a healthy dose of artistic interpretation of course.

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Plant/Pollinator Factoid:
Bee Balm (Monarda) is a pollinator superstar attracting bees, butterflies and because of the flowers tubular structure also hummingbirds. With a high quotient of showstopper blooms…it’s a treat for all living things. Nectar for pollinators, tea for people. Borage is like a bee magnet, beautiful to look at…seeds itself with wild abandonment (so if you are a control freak gardener probably not for you but I encourage you to let your inner borage run free). I heart borage and I like to run free.

Milkweed, a constant source of entertainment. It’s like an insect parade.  Something is always evolving on it… Monarch butterflies feed exclusively on milkweed. Wouldn’t you?

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To that end I must ask you…
Have you hugged a pollinator today?!  Arms open wide people, come on…do it.

-JF

 

 

Beyond Violet’s home, counting on color and for the love of a good repurpose…

I started taking apart the sculpture today… which means the home stretch is here! Before I did that, I made a handy little installation map.  Triangulation is the key to a good installation with multiple parts.  Here is the layout (imperfect but just what we will need):
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You might be wondering where this Bee Sculpture is headed.  Oh man!! It is going to a fantastic place.  Here is a link to the drawing of the site plan for our sculpture’s final resting place… .check out the hexagon plant sites!! : HR Pollinator Project Site Map

Bridget Mendel (another Bridget!!) from the bee laboratory sent us some info on the HR Pollinator Project site in Osceola, WI ( https://www.beelab.umn.edu/bee-squad/bee-squad-programs/hmr) which is where Beyond Violet will live out its days.

“A new venture has begun on the expansive farm of the late Horst Rechelbacher, in Osceola, WI. Flanked by forests that extend down to the banks of the Saint Croix River is a section of fields planted with bee forage. Each plot is an interlinking acre-large hexagon, hand-measured by Bee Squad to mimic the beautiful and efficient pattern of honeycomb. 

In June, acres of clover and expanses of thyme provide food for the 16 bee colonies and many native bees that call the HMR Farm home. In July, rows of Pollinator Tea–Menarda and Anise hyssop and rose–bloom and buzz with honey and bumble bees. The Bee Squad harvests some leaves and blooms for tea, and leaves lots for the bees. 

All summer long, swaths native prairie seed mixes from the Bees Kneez and Prairie Restoration pop with bachelor buttons, sunflowers, and milkweed. Throughout the summer, the U of M Bee Squad surveys the bumble bee populations, looking for increased numbers as the farm is planted intensively with forage. 

Beyond the landscape itself, the HR Pollinator project is a bringing together of diverse groups from the University of Minnesota and beyond, including plant and bee scientists, landscape architects and artists. These groups are using the space for research projects, demonstrations, creative expression and education. Whether a small, hands-on beekeeping clinic held in the apiary or a large talk, the space can support diverse learning opportunities around bees and environment. 

Now that the summer bends towards fall, the Bee Squad begins their annual honey harvest. This year, the bee colonies at the farm have an abundance of honey. The HR farm has a room (nostalgically called “The Distillery” because of its past as a place for making essential oils) with both an electric and a bicycle-powered honey extractor, so that visitors can enjoy learning about the process of making honey, while getting their hands sticky extracting it from the combs.” 

Joy and I made the final decisions on the color of each of the parts of the sculpture.  And I spent the day grinding metal and priming the first round of pieces. Grinding is my least favorite part of being a sculptor… but it has to be done… and when its done its over.  One more day of grinding tomorrow and then I can wear regular shoes and painting clothes.
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Here is a look at some other things that are coming together.  We are repurposing old industrial glass lights and combining them with a fabricated aluminum structure, colored acrylic and a cast concrete compound bee eye.  Here is the inside of the light before we sandblasted it:

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Both Joy and I love to repurpose materials in our work.  I love riffing off of old ideas and transforming them into new sculptural parts.

~Bridget

circadian rhythm

…is affected by environmental cues, like sunlight, temperature OR creative tangents.
Mind over body clock. There is nothing like the feeling of being so immersed in what you are working on that sleep just seems like an inconvenient interruption. I love it actually. With this sculpture it’s part self-induced and part necessity as we aim to complete and ship early September.

Truth is either way, it’s what I do, how I work best and often when artistic breakthroughs + happy accidents occur. And subsequently when sleep does beckon — makes for some fantastical dreaming.

Pollinator Factoid:
It was in 1983 that a researcher called Walter Kaiser made a new discovery: that honeybees slept. As he watched through his observation hive, Kaiser noted how a bee’s legs would first start to flex, bringing its head to the floor. Its antennae would stop moving. In some cases, a bee would fall over sideways, as if intoxicated by tiredness. Many bees held each other’s legs as they slept. (kind of sweet, isn’t it?)

Similar to our circadian rhythm, honeybees sleep between five and eight hours a day. And, in the case of forager bees, this occurs in day-night cycles, with more rest at night when darkness prevents their excursions for pollen and nectar. Nurse bees work constantly — it’s a round the clock gig caring and feeding the queen and next generation. Luckily this is only a temporary gig in the world of bee.  In their next career advancement they can catch some zzzz’s.

At the dimming of the day, the pollination baton is passed along to the night shift crew mostly moths and bats.  Pollination — it takes a diurnal, nocturnal village.

_JF

poem-7

paint
like a painter
you sculptor

no matter if the wing’ed fancied wind~
willows were whipped to soft peaks for less
at best white peaks need to speak these days…
cause bees won’t be trumped
for less
four less addressed in perfect formation

oh this un-socialized nation
paint
like a painter
you sculptor

for·ma·tion

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Carve, prep, mix, mold, cure, prep, mix, pour, demold (ring bell if good), cure — repeat.
I love the whole process actually. Hands in clay, carve away, Part A/Part B. Cement, aggregate, water — must get the perfect ratio of these 3.

As I’m working with configurations of various shapes and contours, my intrigue hinges on the cast of characters we are creating for…

Honey bees construct hives by chewing wax (secreted from their abdominal glands) until it becomes soft, then bond large quantities of wax into the cells of a honeycomb.
There are three feasible shapes for honeycombs: squares, triangles, and hexagons. These are the only regular polygons that you can stick side by side without space. Hexagons take least amount of wax to create and are the strongest and most useful shape for bees. The worker bees start out making cylinders in the wax using their bodies as a tool.  Bees used their antennae, mandibles and legs to manipulate the wax during comb construction, while actively warming the wax and transition the circular forms into hexagon shaped cells.

Well done girls.  Way to raise the artistic bar.  Double bell ring for you.  As for me…back to work.

-J

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