Artist and beekeeper Ren Ri creates art that is influenced by his childhood, an obsessession with art and the relationship between man and nature. In 2008, he began keeping bees and two years later, feeling that his knowledge of honey bees had grown sufficiently, he started “Yuansu I: The Origin of Geometry”, a collection of maps made of beeswax.
His latest project, “Yuansu II,” is a series of beeswax sculptures contained within plastic transparent polyhedrons. Throughout “Yuansu,” Ren investigates the relationship between humans and bees. Within the clear plastic encasement, he creates structures of wooden sticks in which he plants the queen before introducing the rest of the hive. She’s kept at the center of the geometric space which results in the other bees gathering around her, to start building around the center.
Ren Ri explains, “Beeswax is a very special material; it’s unstable and can change shape with temperature. The structure of wax cells is orthohexagonal, which is an inconceivable feature in the natural world and it’s a peculiarity of honeybees. Another reason behind the choice of bees is that I wanted to try to eliminate the subjectivity of the artist and the mediation of bees served this purpose.”
Though he explained that his reason for working with bees was to remove his own subjectivity, Ren Ri rotates the transparent geometric encasement every seven days (a deliberate biblical reference) to alter the growth of the honeycombs.
- Why bees are disappearing (TED.com)
- Making a Bee-Friendly Garden (mste.illinois.edu)
- The U.S. Bans GMOs, Bee-Killing Pesticides in All Wildlife Refuges (takepart.com)