Making Winged: Our Visual Artists

We’re grateful for the many people who worked behind the scenes to bring Winged to life. This week, we feature short interviews with two of our visual artists, Charlotte Clement and Megan Newell. Here’s what they had to say about their interest in pollinators, their work as visual artists, and why they chose to join our team. Thanks, Charlotte and Megan!

Charlotte, 2012 Charlotte Clement
Cover Illustration

I’m an artist and beekeeper based in Portland, Oregon. I was born in Rhode Island and studied fine arts at Drew University. I became became involved with Winged through Jill McKenna Reed. I work with Jill at Bee Thinking. I am excited to be a part of Winged because I’d like to do whatever I can to help bees. I started working at Bee Thinking and became a beekeeper around the same time. I’ve spent the past year having long conversations about bees, their dire state, and the impact their state will have on all of us. Winged was a great opportunity to contribute to a cause I care for through a means that I am very familiar with: drawing.

Charlotte 1 Charlotte 2
Honeybees have in some way shifted my art and creativity. I am inspired by their comunity structure and architectural skill. I used to make a lot of vessels using latex and paper mache. My projects were quite similar to the aesthetics of a beehive.  In addition to managing Bee Thinking’s retail space, I also assist ceramic artist Kim Murton. These interests continue to inspire my art, which is recently focused on textural drawings of bees. I usually work in graphite and charcoal.
Apart from their environmental implications and communal living, I find the movement of the bee most interesting. I am fascinated by their ability to travel for so long on so little and how their wings are simultaneously invisible and luminescent. I tried to capture a moment of that speed and delicacy in my work with Winged.
I am available for commissions. You can reach me by email: cclement128@yahoo.com or phone: 401-556-1750
Megan Megan Newell
Web and Publicity Design
The opportunity to design for Winged is exactly the reason why I design–to support an issue I believe in by helping create the visual storyline. I also value the coming together of writers, poets, artists, photographers, readers, and bee lovers to create a piece that celebrates the beauty of life, and more particularly, one small and important creature. I want to help bring attention to declining honeybee populations, and I am honored to have been a part, although just a small part, of the creative response to this serious issue.
I feel my purpose as a designer is to make others’ lives a little lighter and brighter, even if for a moment. This often influences my work to be vivid, multi-colored, fun, layered, textured, and engaging. As someone who prefers to listen than to speak in conversations, a design becomes my voice to the ideas that form in my mind as I observe others’ passions, histories, issues, concerns, and humanity. I am available for projects and/or collaborations! You can reach me at megz.newell@gmail.com and view previous projects at www.megannewell.com.
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Prairie Gold, by Chris Wiewiora

Last summer when my fiancée Lauren and I pulled up to the prairie, bees boilingly hummed around our bee club’s hives as our wedding planning swirled in my head. We had driven to the prairie to check on the bees’ honey production. From the gravel lot, the bees danced from the adjacent alfalfa field to their hives that we would open up.

Earlier, in spring, I had proposed with my grandmother’s ring. The simple silver band with a diamond stud fit Lauren’s finger perfectly. Around the same time, we had joined the bee club and took a class with Arvin, the apiarist at the horticulture farm for the university where I teach. For several Saturday mornings the club met in a room with a radiator that pinged. During the meetings, I thought about the countdown until the wedding and all the planning to do.

Lauren had a yearlong list that we were checking off. The list noted things to do months (dress and tuxedo), weeks (rings), and days (marriage license) leading up to the wedding. Lauren and I were planning on inviting both our families in Florida, more than one hundred people, and that meant a band, catering, venue with enough parking, and ordering cards for RSVPs and Thank Yous. The ceremony had become more for our families than about us.

We had already been together for several years but knew we wanted to commit to being together for the rest of our lives. We met where we had grown up: Central Florida—multiple cities that sprawled over orange groves and swamps. It took either 15 minutes or 45 minutes to drive anywhere, and mostly via toll roads. Nobody made eye contact in the suburbs as owners’ dogs left turds on lawns. My boss chewed me out in front of customers at the restaurant where I worked, and Lauren filed accounting and blueprint plans for a construction firm that paid her as an intern. Lauren had moved with me when I entered grad school. We came to love our quiet, simple life in the Midwest. From the sidewalks, our neighbors said, “Good morning.” Lauren rode her bike to work for a non-profit. People on the bus gave their seats to older folks. In class, my students shook my hand. We belonged to a co-op grocery store and made meals at home each night.

In the prairie, I considered that we probably wouldn’t have discovered—let alone had the time for—a bee club in Central Florida. At a shed, Lauren and I put on bonnets and then walked over to the white boxy hives. Throughout summer the club had added levels of “supers,” stacking the hives into miniature towering apartments. Lifting the roof, I squeezed a smoldering smoker’s accordion-like pump filled with smoldering burlap. Lauren used a beebrush to wipe off the frames with “the ladies” (as Arvin called the all-female workers). I scraped and pried the gluey propolis off edges with the crowbar-like hive-tool. I pulled up a heavy frame with uncapped comb oozing honey.

As the bees rose in a smoky stupor, my thoughts on the wedding cleared. We were getting married for the continual days together that would fill with moments: playing rummy at the kitchen table, pouring water along the rows of our backyard garden, watching the green flickers from lightning bugs through the screened windows, huddling under the basement stairs as the tornado sirens wailed, wearing hats inside the house during winter, and dabbing our fingers in the first taste of tens of thousands of flights.

This essay first appeared in Edible Iowa River Valley.

1Chris Wiewiora is from Orlando, Florida but currently lives with his wife in Ames where he earned his MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University. His nonfiction has been anthologized in Best Food Writing 2013 and published in GastronomicaGrazeMake, and many other magazines. Read more at www.chriswiewiora.com

Butternut Squash Soup, a poem by Gwendolyn Morgan

L3APwvISQ7i8XcFsQYwQ_IMG_1820Butternut Squash Soup

Today I will write a poem about Butternut Squash soup
with winter pears, ginger, garlic, carrots, pepper
the woman who was assaulted, how she wept
holding the stuffed giraffe, honey stick and prayer shawl
the week of incessant rain, global warming,
how the dead bees rained on her sun porch,
how she crawled under the car to get out of the rain
when he left her bloody and bruised at the county park
how the soup is blended, smooth, a rusty orange-brown
like the round edges of screws on the Forest Service green picnic tables,
the edges of his silver truck bed. How she wears amber, a round
gemstone from the Dominican Republic, warm light of hope.
How bees pollinate the squash, pears, vegetables, herbs and spices.
How the honeycombs are lit from within, pure chroma color.
hexagonal, the esoteric shape of bees’ bodies.
This poem is about equilibrium in the midst of social media,
how another acquaintance spiraled out, anxiety, depression,
perhaps multiple personalities, or personality disorder
which doesn’t exist in the latest DSM. What would his
diagnosis be anyway? charismatic sociopath? He is
the neighbor next door who mows your grass, removes wasp nests,
when you haven’t asked, and fixes the elderly neighbor’s fence
and how you would never suspect he was a predator
unless you were paying attention, watching the bees and stirring the soup
with a wooden spoon, adding a bit of Mediterranean sea salt.

 

morgan photo by kim salgadoGwendolyn Morgan  learned the names of birds and wildflowers and inherited paint brushes and boxes from her grandmothers.  With a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College, and a M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary, she has been a recipient of writing residencies at Artsmith, Caldera and Soapstone. Her work has been published in: Calyx, DakotahKalliopeKinesisManzanita QuarterlyTributaries: a Journal of Nature Writing, VoiceCatcherWritten River as well as other anthologies and literary journals.  Crow Feathers, Red Ochre, Green Tea, her first book of poems was released from Hiraeth Press this past autumn.   She serves as the manager of interfaith Spiritual Care at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center.   Gwendolyn and Judy A. Rose, her partner, share their home with Abbey Skye, a rescued Pembroke Welsh Corgi. For more information, please visit her website.

For We Do Not Know How to Pray, A Poem by Travis Poling

For We Do Not Know How to Pray

“but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” – Saint Paul

 

Worker bees fly in from the field and dance the story of nectar: antennae circling,
abdomen humming. When I was a boy I had seizures and my body forgot how to speak;
in my silence, I rubbed buttercup pollen on my cheeks, tied dandelions into ropes.

In Russia, monks wander wordless through forests, praying for mercy with chotkis,
begging for honey from bees. One gospel says Jesus’ mouth was anointed with honey
right as the heavens ripped open, before he was silent for forty days.

The first time I stood before the altar, breaking the honey-wheat bread of Christ’s body,
my whole body trembled. I was speechless.

If you ever lost the capacity to speak, would you dance like the honey bee—
pointing your people to the wild, wild nectar of endless yellow blossoms?

 

____________________________________________________

 

Poling Travis

 

Travis Poling is a poet, liturgist, and teacher living in Richmond, Indiana.
His work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, and a self-published
chapbook. He edits the William Stafford Online Reader and blogs at travispoling.com.
Recently he collaborated with artist Craig Goodworth in “Vcela,” a liturgical installation
exploring the honey bee in ecological and spiritual traditions.

 

Visit http://staffordreader.com/

Incanto Incognito, A Poem by Monique Avakian

dorothyhive2

Incanto Incognito

                    … though this map has been danced out for you before,

this may be the first time you realize where you’re going …

 

People~machines crushed by the invisible hand

take flight like warmed bees

 

propelled by the ethereal sound of live, improvised music

their winged shield holds, forms a third body

of protection

 

pain, invited into the light

burns into the nothingness of understanding

 

called forth by the sound of the Spheres,

each crumpled life, in turn, unfolds into the sweet heat

of loving kindness

 

each un-shuttered heart

at once

 the Soul in search

and

the delicate anther

willing….

 

____________________________________________

Soul Work: The Story Behind the Poem

 

I went to hear a jazz trio on November 23, 2013. Near the end of the concert, round about

9:47pm, something magical happened. As the inventive musicians played in unusual ways

upon steel guitar, saxophone and upright bass, I suddenly felt that all the people in the room

were literally connected through the vibrations of sound.

 

I felt peaceful, safe and warm: like a bee at rest in a hive. I literally felt surrounded by soft

humming wings, and I felt a light wing drape over my shoulder. I felt protected. This insight

occurred in a flash, but the resonance of depth involved in this realization required more

reflection.

 

This was a sound-based experience. This was a communal experience. It was nourishing. It

was invisible and non-quantifiable. In essence, this was a spiritual matter. And, as with all

spiritual matters, the mystery led to many questions.

 

A scientist might describe what happened to me as an auditory hallucination. An energy

healer may speak of my having found a “unified field.” Since I am a poet and bees are a

traditional symbol for the soul, I chose to work with poetry to help me make sense of this

dramatic and important moment in my life. This is how my poem, Incanto Incognito, came to

life.

 

I started with research: bees use sound and dance to communicate. In some instances, bees

also generate sound during pollination practices inside the flower as they shake pollen loose

using rapid wing movement. Bees also use sound (piping) prior to swarming. (FYI: swarming

is usually non-aggressive and motivated by the need to split and relocate, due to the health

and growth of the group).

 

Like jazz musicians, artists and poets, bees use complex symbolic language in order to create,

live and thrive.

 

That’s why this particular moment at this particular jazz show felt so vital to me.

As the musicians explored improvisatory sound-play, I was transported by their giving spirit

into another realm of consciousness. I felt a tangible, though invisible, connection with

everyone in the room. This was sudden and stunning. Through the vibrancy of sound, I

moved into a peaceful state where I felt calm, safe and warm – literally protected by the

humming wings of those around me.

 

For a brief and powerful moment, I was literally a worker bee at rest in a hive.

This makes sense for me because Cornelia Street Café is a place where I go a lot to hear jazz

and poetry: a tangible place I visit to connect with others of like mind. I recharge and then

leave again to go out into a busy world of work and struggle. My relationship with Cornelia

Street Cafe is similar to that of worker bee with beehive.

That particular evening, Susan Alcorn, Ellery Eskelin, and Michael Formanek led listeners

into a place of strength and beauty and empowerment. I carry their spirit with me to this day.

So touched, we touch others—it’s a matter of soul. The CD of the music I heard is available

here.

 

Monique Avakian Photo

 

Bio: When Monique Avakian was 10, she really thought that if she just focused in hard

enough she would be able fly like a witch through the night. Magical objects such as

a broken watch with a cracked face or a tiny fistful of fake diamonds were key to

such endeavors. It never seemed to occur to her that the basement was perhaps not

the ideal locale for such experiments. Monique regularly travels through time and

space via poetry, her vehicle of choice now for nearly five decades. Monique also

runs poetry workshops, writes jazz articles and is the founding curator of a

multi-media online literary zine. She can be reached at monava9@gmail.com.

 

From the Beekeeper

An amazing post from treatment-free beekeeper Kat Nesbit of Bliss Honeybees. Written two years ago, this is the story of two intrepid beekeepers called to remove a feral honey bee hive from a public building. It’s an incredible first-hand look at these creatures, and Kat’s creative approach to moving the hive. For more on Kat and Bliss Honeybees, including this year’s Treatment-free Beekeeping conference, please visit her website.

Nesbitt4

Beehive Removal from White City, Oregon
By: Kat Nesbit
Originally published on March 5, 2012, at Bliss Honeybees

Yesterday afternoon I went to the Veteran’s Administration complex in White City, Oregon, to remove a hive from a 2nd story roof with my friend John. They didn’t want to tear up the roof, so the plan was to go in from the ceiling of the hall below the hive. When we arrived we found they had quarantined the hall where the bee removal was to take place. It reminded me a little bit of the scene at the end of ET where the feds have come in and put ET in a plastic prison to keep the public “safe”!

They had already cut a hole in the ceiling, from which fluffy clouds of insulation were emerging like really nasty cotton candy. We needed to expand the hole to completely expose the nest, which we did with a reciprocating saw. It’s the first time I’ve been in a beehive since December and I could feel my heart start to beat faster in awe and appreciation of what these amazing little creatures can accomplish.

Nesbitt3

Since the VA had access to a lift (like the kind that construction workers or painters use to work at elevated sites), we decided to situate the lift right outside the 2nd story window. I climbed out the window and set up my work station in the narrow cage. John stood on a ladder inside and cut the comb out of the nest, then handed it teaming with bees to me on the lift. I brushed the bees off into the box with a bee brush, cut the comb down to fit the frame with my hive tool, and rubber banded the comb into frames. Over time, the bees will chew through the rubber bands, attach the combs to the frame, and fill out the empty spaces.

The bees standing on the top of the frame in this photo are sending out a “come hither!” scent to the other workers to tell them where to rejoin the colony. To do this, worker bees have a special scent gland called the Nasanov gland on the dorsal side of the abdomen. The opening is located at the base of the last tergite (plate) at the tip of the body. The bees raise their abdomen and tip the very end of to expose the gland, then fan like crazy with their wings to send the pheromone out into the air. Bees have an excellent sense of smell and can follow this scent to find their sisters. This 2nd photo shows the same bees zoomed in.

Nesbitt

This photo shows the outside entrance to the hive, where returning foragers are milling around in confusion as they find their home gone. Once we cut all the combs out, the VA lowered the lift so I could get out. Then we sent the hive back up on the lift and situated it as close as possible to the original entrance so that the bees remaining in the roof and the returning foragers would smell their family and join them in the box. Hopefully this included the queen, as I’m not at all sure that we got her. Neither of us saw her, and the bees that were fanning at first soon stopped, which makes me think the queen wasn’t in the box. John returned after dark once all the foragers had returned to pick up the hive and vacuum up any remaining stragglers in the original nest (they can then be shaken into the box, usually unharmed).

Nesbitt2

I want to say a big huge thank you to the VA for calling us instead of spraying Raid into the entrance in a (usually ineffective) attempt to kill the colony.
March 25th, 2012 update: We did get the queen and she is fabulous! We may use her for a breeder. Lots of brood, few mites. Here are the pictures-the one on the right is just a zoomed in version of the one on the left: