Colony Expanse Installation
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
New York City
A giant swarm of 193 hand-painted bees and four bending hives are currently on display in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in NYC through August 18, 2018. It is the latest installation by art activist Matthew Willey and his global initiative, The Good of the Hive. Each of the 193 bees represents a member state of the United Nations.
Each of these bees is prepared to make a profound journey.
"Bees are crucial for human survival. They do not belong to any race, gender or nationality. They transcend borders and politics. They are everyone's... critical friends.
When honey bees swarm in nature they risk everything. They leave the safety of their hive and enter into the unknown as the precious queen Bee and her hive leap into a state of utter vulnerability for the possibility of expansion. This installation, much like the first phase of a honey bee swarm, is about the potential for change, and the vulnerability and human connection required to achieve it. The bees in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza are essentially hovering in the uncertainty of what comes next.
The intention with this piece is for people around the world to sponsor individual bees so they can travel to the countries they represent when the piece comes down. With active human participation, Colony Expanse becomes something else... a living, breathing, example of humans being aware of, and connecting around, the importance of honey bees and pollination. I look forward to seeing what happens as the bees take flight! What do bees mean to people around the world in different cultures? We are going to share those stories as they unfold.
The bee and her hive have played a huge role in our evolution as a species, and they support our food systems on a daily basis. If we can all agree about one tiny thing like the importance of a bee, we just might start to remember that we can agree about other things, too.
Global issues like pollinator health are better solved when we face them together. The piece is in collaboration with the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations, Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and the NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program.
There is a cavernous gap between the overwhelming details of environmental issues like honeybee health or pollination, and having that information understood by people at a local level. Communicating effectively, and long term, is crucial in creating positive change. The goal of the Colony Expanse Installation as well as The Good of the Hive is to create art that brings people into connection with the idea of the bee, her beauty and her importance.
"The health of a honey bee is based on the health of the hive, not the individual bee. Collective action is necessary for growth and expansion. Humans are the same way, although we rarely act like it. Many of the issues we face today are not divided by borders. In fact, bee health or pollination issues are more likely to be solved by transcending them." Matthew Willey
Matthew has been engaging and educating people about bees with his murals non-stop for the past three years. He has personally painted over 4000 bees in 15 murals and spoken to thousands of kids and adults alike on his mural sites.
The next phase of the Colony Expanse Installation - as it expands and the bees find their way to the corners of the human populated world - will not only create a kinetic piece of art that physically brings bees into the minds and hearts of people, it has the potential to show us that magical things can happen when we come together for a common cause. There is beauty in repairing that which is damaged.
Support The Good of the Hive and Matthew's work and invest in the future of humans, bees and the planet by sponsoring a bee to make a journey that none of us will forget.
Special thanks to Mira Spiritvoice, Sean Pace, Sherrill Kazan, the Dag Hammarskjold community, Nick Browne and the myriad of others that have helped bring this piece to life!