It isn’t just what an artist says. It’s how it’s said.
One definition of art–and, I admit, it’s far from being the only definition–is the aesthetic reinterpretation of the world around us. Joseph Brodsky said, in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “aesthetics is the mother of ethics.” He meant linguistically–both words are derived from the same source–and also more philosophically. My own interpretation of that is that art makes us better people because it makes us see the world around us in different ways and this, in turn, makes us more connected to the world around us.
Street artist Louis Masais’s painting Save The Bees is both aesthetically and ethically powerful.
It’s an ecological statement. Bees are currently threatened worldwide and as a cornerstone species their extinction could have a ripple effect that would change global ecosystems. It threatens to affect even our lives as we know them, if not our very existence, because of the role bees play in pollinating food crops.
That would be the “ethics” part of his painting–the underlying subtext, but consider the “aesthetics”, how he’s chosen to make the statement. He didn’t write out a text explaining what’s happening to the bees. He could have–others have and it’s a good way to get the message out–but instead his painting incorporates a giant bee onto the corner of a building. And rather than just a trompe l’oeil painting he’s incorporated smaller paintings of flowers into its head, thorax, and abdomen. The bee is one of nature’s works of art and creating art is in our nature. Art doesn’t just mimic nature; it’s our way of defining and understanding it. It connects us. And we have to ask ourselves, do we really want to turn a corner into a world without bees?
Granted this is only one interpretation of this particular work, and Masai has painted several public murals of bees and other endangered animals to raise awareness. This particular one just happened to be the first one I saw when it was posted by Twitter user @CarlForrest. And it made me feel connected.
Thanks also to Karen of Chronicles Of A Boob for sharing it with me.
Dude. I don’t want to live in a world without bees. Or you.
Aw, shucks, I think you’re pretty nice to have around too. Anyway I have no plans to go anywhere, especially since I have so much more about bees to address. I’m just like Eddie Izzard. I like my blog posts COVERED IN BEES. And then there’s Arthur C. Clarke’s “Critical Mass”, but that really is another story and I’m treading dangerously close to a spoiler.
What a neat work of art! It definitely caught my attention right away. In a way, what you said reminded me of the Butterfly Effect. Have you read that short story ‘A Sound of Thunder?’ If not, I read it a long time ago so my details might be hazy–but this group of people go back in time to look at dinosaurs and they are under strict orders not to touch anything. Well, some idiot (there always has to be one) kills a butterfly. And, because that butterfly was killed it sets off this whole chain reaction so that the future ends up being just a bit dreary. 🙂 Anyway, you talked about the ripple effect and I immediately thought of Bradbury’s story. (Also, I know you’re a Bradbury fan.) It’s so fascinating just how interconnected everything really is…how one species that I wouldn’t give a whole lot of street credit to can have the power to disrupt ecological chains…
Holy mackerel, how did I not think of “A Sound of Thunder”? I should hand in my Bradbury Fan Club card, if I had one. I do have a Commander USA fan club card but they’ll have to pry that from my cold, dead wallet, but that’s another story. And now I’m laughing remembering the Simpsons episode that parodied “A Sound of Thunder” with Homer trying to “fix” the mistake he’d made killing a butterfly by going back in time several more times and stomping on everything in sight.
See if you can follow that train of thought. Surprisingly it is all connected.
I love that bee! I want to believe that we will come to our senses and just DO all the things we need to do to stop species loss and climate change and polluting our own backyard before everything is irreversibly effed. I want the shiny happy Star Trek future not the bleak and smoky Blade Runner future.
Yes! Please, let’s have a Star Trek future because there will be Ferengi. Or at the very least a lot of cool technology and a happy, productive, egalitarian society. Sometimes though I worry we’re headed toward an even darker option than Blade Runner. Sometimes I think we’re headed toward a Mad Max future more than anything else.
If the bees go then so do we – it’s not like we can stand around choosing to live or die if the bees become extinct. It’s an eye-catching image of a pissed off bee.
Sadly true–we depend on the bees, and not just for honey. Actually I consider honey to be an auxiliary benefit of bees.