The Wilde world of bees

Artist and gallery owner Stephanie Wilde has an amazing capacity for fixating, exploring and rendering complex issues into elegant and rich expressions through her art.

She’s has created beautiful bodies of work detailing the progress of the AIDS epidemic in Africa and beyond and the rise of corporate greed. Now she’s taking on the plight of the Western Honeybee.

Other pieces include, “The Golden Hive,” pictured, one of a triptych that includes piece titled “Hierarchy” and “Humming,” that focus on the life of the colony.

In 2007 in the New York Times she read an article about the trouble with the bees was referred to as “The AIDS of the colony.” That resonated with Wilde who is still working on a body of work exploring the AIDS epidemic.

She began to see a parallel between her work exploring AIDS and the honeybee’s Colony Collapse Disorder.

“They are both scientific challenges,” she says. “And in the end both impact us greatly.”

If the bees go, we follow.

Wilde started work on “Golden Bees” in 2008. The first series was the “Specimens and Observers,” 365 hexagon-shaped pieces, each with a bee portrait hand drawn and etched in 24-karat gold leaf and six long vertical panels that show a figure of a “watcher” to represent a scientist that is distilled into a single, thin line.

Wilde's "Specimens," 365 individual hand painted and etched bee portraits

Wilde’s “Specimens”

“It’s the thin line of nature that we changes everything if it’s moved,” she says.

Next came the 36 panels of “Angels of Agriculture.”

“I thought that would be it but what happens with me is it just keeps growing,” Wilde says.

The continuation of this project will include “Dance of the Bees,” “The Garden,” “Flower Specimens” and the “Beekeepers” all of which address the importance of the bees’ work in the natural world and our current awareness of their plight.

In the end there will be nearly 500 individual pieces in the installation. Wilde is preparing to solicit large art museums and possibly natural history museums for the work that should be completed by 2015.

You can see parts of this epic undertaking at an open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 7-10 at Stewart Gallery, 2230 Main St., Boise.

Posted in ArtsBeat