USM Art Galleries Gorham and Portland

Cross-Pollinating the Grassroots: Collaborative Works Inspired by the Beehive Design Collective

January 22 - March 29, 2018
AREA Gallery, Woodbury Campus Center, Portland campus.Closing Reception: March 29, 4:30-6:30. Presentation by Artist-in-Residence and Beehive member Emily Simons at 5:30 pm. View Emily Simon's USM artist talk.

Cross-Pollinating the Grassroots

The Beehive Collective has been known for its extremely intricate, collaboratively-produced illustrations, full of fable-style archetypal characters based on stories gleaned from communities on the frontlines of resource extraction and expansive industrial development, but then further extrapolated to explore myriad consequences of historic and contemporary colonization and to honor those communities in resistance.

The collective's most well-known works have been lauded for their innovative story-telling techniques, meticulously rendered scenes & characters, and incredible density of visual information.  They have incorporated many artists, activists, and educators and multiple years of hard work, and it shows - viewers are often dazzled by the scale and ambition of these elaborate images. 

But can collaboratively-produced art with social and environmental justice messages be accessible to others as well?  This exhibition focuses on recent works in the collaborative style of the Beehive, usually under the guidance of individual "Bees" who are expanding their mission of "cross-pollinating the grassroots" by conducting collaborative graphic-making workshops with groups and individuals working on local environmental and social justice issues. Some groups have been made up of professional artists, some art students, and some lay people enjoying a fun & fast-paced half-day art workshop. Here we see a full range of collaborative story-telling art projects, from stencils produced in just 4 hours, to the most elaborate Beehive Collective poster, Mesoamérica Resiste, a two-part work which was illustrated by more than 30 artists over 9 years following the initial research trip.

The USM Department of Art’s Artist-in-Residence is supported by the Warren Memorial Foundation Visiting Artist Series.