The bee collective Merges Nature and Culture
We spoke with Luke Howard, founder of the bee collective, to learn about their mission and their upcoming collaborative show, beecoming home.
beecoming home is opening on August 12th, 5–9 pm.
Tell us about the concept behind beecoming home.
the beecoming home concept came from a variety of places and over many years of being a beekeeper. The whole mission of the bee collective is to help make Columbus, Ohio more habitable for our pollinators. which leads us to one of my big inspirations in life, Wes Jackson, who co-founded the Land Institute with his wife.
he has talked for decades about a “massive salvage” operation to help us “become native to place.” which is the concept that since this country was settled the settlers never learned to become native to place. so centuries later, we still don’t know how to live here very well. to become native to place though, you have to fall in love with where you live before you can ever truly care about learning about it and making it home.
as a beekeeper with a focus in the arts, this gallery is about blending nature and our culture in the way I know how. working with local artists to make sculptures that bring out their culture and way of knowing, and have the bees build, modify, and transform their artwork. a symbol that we can build, modify, and transform our cities to intentionally live more harmoniously with them.
How do the artists use materials that are eco friendly?
the artists were not tasked with using eco-friendly materials specifically. other than making sure nothing was too toxic to the bees, that wasn’t really a focus of this. it naturally worked out that the artists used relatively eco-friendly materials, both because they were thoughtful, but also that happened to be their medium of choice. what I love is that many artists used recycled and repurposed materials. i again, didn’t ask them to do this, they just naturally gravitate towards recycled materials, which seems ever important for a project like this. we are given these cities and the state they are in, and we can take it upon ourselves to repurpose them in a more caring way.
many art materials can naturally be eco-friendly. wood was used in a few pieces, so clearly that is a safe material. glass and concrete were used as well which are inherently safe. the only material that had some concern was resin, but the artist picked a very eco-friendly brand, and cured resin is safe.
Will we see The Bee Collective collaborating with artists in the future?
we have been collaborating with artists since the beginning in 2020, and this is just more more step forward. we are hoping this gallery becomes a yearly staple, and we get to work with new artists every year, and we get to let this keep growing. the bee collective has the word collective because of the collective mission to make all that we are trying to do possible. so, yes, we will be collaborating with many artists in the future!
*a note from Luke: i intentionally don’t capitalize the company name or my sentences as a way of subtly nodding to anything that is written is not serious enough to deserve a capital letter. a way of writing in a more childlike manner. because while it can be daunting to discuss the state of our environment; it is with excitement and curiosity that we can sparked the most change.