Members of Mavis Muller’s “BEE the change” art project pose for a drone photograph on July 5, 2020, at Muller’s home in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by John Newton)

Members of Mavis Muller’s “BEE the change” art project pose for a drone photograph on July 5, 2020, at Muller’s home in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by John Newton)

Artist organizes ‘bee the change’ project

With the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center Fourth of July celebration canceled, a group of Homer artists who traditionally perform in the parade as a swarm of buzzing bees took their project to artist and “queen bee” Mavis Muller’s hayfield.

According to a press release Monday from Muller, they put on smiley-faced masks and convened with safe physical distancing in a freshly hayed field on Sunday, July 5, to create a stationary float that was flat on the ground, a design made with used fabric. Muller said the playful project also had a serious message: United we can ‘bee’ the change. An installation artist and community art instigator, Muller organized the event.

“I like to refer to this kind of group activity as the art of activism, or ‘artivism’ for short. Using creativity to communicate a message to educate, inspire, and activate,” Muller said in the release.

The seven participants dressed in bee costumes as they placed the fabric on the ground. They held signs or had messages written on their wings that said “Climate Justice; Bee a Voter,” “Native rights; Bee Involved,” “Peace Building; Bee kind,” “Gender Equality; Bee Tolerant,” “Right to Dissent; Bee Proactive,” “Civil Rights; Bee Vigilant,” “One World; BEE Love” and “With support energy of Bee Safe, Bee Good, Bee Nice, Bee Here Now.”

Participant Robin McAllistar said of the project, “It was powerful to be wearing the wings that said ‘BEE Proactive’. My matching sign said ‘Right to Dissent’ which is at the core of our democracy with our right to gather peacefully to express our concerns and ideals. … This kind of art is a valid way to express ourselves and be heard. I was delighted to be part of it. It was very fun.”

Participant Vikki Collier Deadrick said, “I felt good wearing my wings that said ‘BEE Tolerant’ because I feel it’s a needed message for the world right now. … I loved the vision of interactive, impermanent art to communicate.”

“The breadth and intensity of the issues we face in the world today can feel staggering, but we humans are part of a much bigger holistic collective, like the bees, with the potential for great social awakening and positive change,” said participant Alayne Tetor, in the press release.

“When I heard about a physically distanced, safe and meaningful action I buzzed right over,” said participant Carly Weir, in the press release. “It’s important to remain involved even at this time when gathering in large groups is not safe.”

Drone photographer John Newton took images of the project and even dressed in a yellow tutu.

“The drone itself sounded like a bee as it hovered over the workers,” he said.

Muller said she chose bees for the project because they “have come to symbolize both hard work and reward in perfect harmony and they represent societal collaboration, relentless effort, and victory over the impossible. Bees are pollinators; we humans and the planet need them, life could not be sustained without them. The bees in this creative action of art are pollinating ideas of positive change for our survival.”

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