Toronto-based artist Ava Roth demonstrates the collaborative potential of honeybees in her amazing mixed-media art. The ongoing series entitled Honeycomb Collection features a dynamic combination of Roth's hand embroidery, encaustic medium, found objects, and natural honeycomb created by bees.
The artist begins by stitching her designs onto Japanese paper. After that, she adds a variety of local items such as porcupine quills, burr comb, tulip tree leaves, and rose quartz. Once she is done, Roth turns her creation over to a colony of bees who quickly frame her handiwork with richly textured honeycombs.
Merging natural materials with those that are handmade is a crucial part of the series. However, in contrast to her older work, which used store-bought embroidery hoops to contain the stitched element, Roth's newest pieces feature custom-made inner and outer maple frames built by woodworker Bernoel Dela Vega. “Each piece requires some kind of border that separates my work from the bees’ work,” Roth says. “This (change) has allowed me to experiment with different sizes and shapes and has helped to make every aspect of my work hand (or bee) crafted.”
These frames are also intended to mimic the dimensions of Langstroth hives, which are the typical man-made hives used in beekeeping. “I recognize that Langstroth hives are not a natural habitat for bees, but neither are most of the spaces that humans find themselves occupying right now,” Roth continues. “Ultimately, this project is about exploring the ways in which humans collide with the natural environment today and finding ways to make making something beautiful from this specific time and place.” She hopes her beautiful art will inspire more people to take steps to help save the bees.