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A-Buzz with Arts

Beehive Design Collective presents social awareness mural nine years in the making



A top to bottom scan of the Beehive Collective drawing "The Cost of Coal" flows from a raging river of industrialism and ends in a trickle of natural destruction. The top of the drawing is a complex skyline, a tangle of power lines, oil spills and backhoes. Midway down the canvas the cityscape starts to bleed into a more natural environment, but not happily. A family of mice cling to the roof of a house being washed away in a flood, a fox with a smoking gun malevolently twits his paws, a deer skull is sinking in the polluted river.

The metaphors are heavy-handed, sketched in beautiful pen-and-ink detail.

In 2000, the Beehive Collective began their buzz as a Maine-based, all-volunteer arts and activism group that creates giant portable murals to be the centerpieces of educational campaigns about global issues. Since then, they've enlisted hundreds of contributors to work on dozens of projects and distributed 75,000 posters via presentations across the globe, completely by hand.

Beehive projects start with first hand investigation, interviews and exploration that eventually become collective storytelling illustrations. Finished drawings are accumulated into mosaic art pieces like the one above that abstractly depict social issues like free trade, resource extraction and biotechnology.

Sakura Saunders, a freelance grassroots organizer based in Toronto, will be in Bend next Monday to present the nine years-in-the-making project, Mesoamérica Resiste, a meticulous 20-foot-long print of a pen and ink drawing depicting the globalization of South Central America.

The project began with a road trip from Puebla, Mexico to Panama in 2004 where artists and activists were able to see first-hand the areas and peoples effected by the Plan Puebla Panama, an industrialization and mega-infrastructure project aimed at transforming Southern Mexico and parts of Central America into a manufacturing and transportation corridor. What the artists discovered is that the project is good for big business, but bad for the little guy.

"Mesoamérica Resiste is a two-part poster. Outside is the colonizers worldview, a top down perspective," explained Saunders. "Then inside it's a grassroots view of the world, it's the perspective of an ant on this giant ceiba tree."

Ants are powerful symbols of solidarity and organization in numbers, Saunders continued, and the Beehive Collective always uses natural systems to depict social issues. In fact, they don't draw people at all, only animals as representations of human problems.

"All the work is extremely metaphoric," explained Saunders. "Sometimes it's the organization of ants or bees that makes more sense. It's more natural and communal."

Monday, Nov. 18

6:30 pm.

Studio 3, 50 SE Scott St. Ste. 1



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