A HIVE OF CREATIVITY MOVES TO THE STREET
EDN’s Artists for the Earth Spotlight: Matthew Willey and Louis Masai
In an effort to raise awareness about the plight of endangered animals, two artists focus on the amazing honey bee as a metaphor not only for the threat of species extinction, but for a way of life.
Mural painter Matthew Willey founded the Good of the Hive, a project inspired by a bee that flew in his window one day, to paint 50,000 bees (the approximate number necessary for a healthy bee hive) in murals around the world – and keeping careful note of the number. According to Willey, “Honey bees within the hive ‘think’ collectively. They are hard-wired to understand that their immune system is collective. Their health is based on the health of the hive, not the individual bee.” His worklooks at the perfect balance that a bee has with its hive and our own balance as humans with everything around us. The essence of his work is to connect us all in the realization that, in this way, we are just like bees. He paints bees so that people will not only learn of their startling decline or their incredible importance, but also to celebrate the power in human connection. Willey’s latest project is a custom designed series of installations entitled “The Swarm.”
London artist Louis Masai is on a mission to raise awareness of endangered species through his Save the Bees project. His work on large outdoor wall murals began shortly after he returned from painting endangered animals in South Africa when he learned about bees and the implications of colony collapse disorder. His travel project, “The Art of Beeing”, was a 12 city tour across the United States where he painted murals of local species under threat of extinction. The animals were painted like patchwork toys each with a bee seen stitching them up because, as he sees it, they are keeping the planet stitched together. “If we don’t act now to stop extinction,” he says, “only toys will remain in the place of animals. Patchworks are relevant because those were traditionally passed down in families by women.” He leaves his animals as memories for the children of tomorrow, but the true “Art of Beeing” is his hope that humans will re-evaluate nature by putting species protection at the heart of society, and come together to restore the planet.
Earth Day Network has launched its Earth Day 2019 campaign Protect Our Species, which identifies 2019 as a crucial year to advance and protect laws, policies, regulations, and international cooperation agreements for species protection from threatened rollbacks. Learn more about the campaign here.