From 1992-1997, an artist’s live/work space in Oakland, California was my Walden Pond.
As a young artist, alone and in my early twenties, I spent five years exploring the world by making art. Time was abundant and uncomplicated. My liveliness was like the bustle inside a beehive. With the energy of youth, I wanted to discover my place in the world. I made art for the purpose of self-discovery. The audience for my handiwork was often myself. Like Thoreau, I wanted to feel alive. Unlike Thoreau, I was processing a coming-of-age at the end of the twentieth century.
Many materials were incorporated into my work, but beeswax was the most important. It was melted and molded into shapes that gave physical form to ideas. In a fragrant fluid state, the substance was cast into many objects including bottles, boxes, dog-like pets, eyes and hearts.
If beeswax was the backbone of my hive, Kool-Aid was its energy source. Like honey, the sugary liquid flowed through many parts of my work. The rainbow colors indispensable to Kool-Aid found their way into specimen jars, filled long lines of tubing, crystallized in drawings and even grew mold.
Taxonomy and word play helped to organize ideas and define the creative process. Many found or handmade objects were scientifically named, tagged, inventoried and placed into collections. Ordered objects inhabited my studio space like eccentric apparatus in a mad scientist’s laboratory.
Twenty years later, I have compiled the pieces, parts and bits from five years of art-making into The Beeswax Studio. The collection illustrated in this book arose with a spirit reminiscent of the sprawling installations formed years ago in Oakland. The book’s collection is not chronological; as with earlier systems, an inventory is built-in. The section titled Pieces, Parts, Bits illustrates a 2012 installation of objects from the collection.
Cell-making instinct of the Hive-Bee.—I will not here enter on minute details on this subject, but will merely give an outline of the conclusions at which I have arrived. He must be a dull man who can examine the exquisite structure of a comb, so beautifully adapted to its end, without enthusiastic admiration.Charles Darwin; On the Origin of Species