Bee or Not to Bee

Submitted by Mr & Mrs Ferguson Art

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Client: Burning Man

Location: Black Rock City , NV, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $15,000

Project Team

Artist

Robert Ferguson

Mr and Mrs Ferguson Art

Overview

The honey bee is big. Compare yourself to this sculpture yes, but so is the contribution that bees have to the world’s food supply. Don’t be intimidated. Get close. Draw your hands over the bee body. It has long hair, curved limbs, penetrating eyes. You’re not vulnerable and nor should a bee be vulnerable to you. This bee stands over 12 feet tall and is 21 feet long. Under it is a 12 foot wide flower made of over 35,00 glass marbles.

Goals

Our goal is to make art installations that are visual tricks. They seem as one thing from afar but on examination they become a tactile experience. Touch is a sense often overlooked in a world of visual and audible stimulation. We have learned from past experiences with our penny bear and penny bird sculptures that visitors of art become participants when they stay longer with the art and explore it. Bee or Not to Bee’s use of broom bristles and marbles delivered a unique tactile experience that participants enjoy.

Process

We love creating a sense of whimsy with our installations, mostly through the materials we select. With this project, we chose familiar and fun materials to tantalize the participant. Our first new material was nylon industrial broom bristle. Appearing as the long, delicate hair of a bee. The hairs were fun to draw hands through yet durable enough to spring back into form. The flower base was made with 33,000 glass, toy marbles. Durable and a touchstone to the memory of childhood. At night, light passed through the marbles to light the installation.

We made the big compound eyes to seem penetrating, painted with iridescent paints and coated with multiple layers of lacquer for depth.

The wings were built with perforated mesh steel and reinforced with tubing to simulate the veins. We coated the wings in champagne and gold iridescent paints.

Additional Information

After Burning Man the bee was shown at Burning Man’s San Francisco Decompression event in October and a few weeks later at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire event.