Activists use art to showcase effects of globalization

Depicting allegorical insects, which represent corporations and animals as the victims of expanding industry, the Beehive Design Collective presented their ideas about globalization and world issues through an exhibition of three large murals last night in Dwight Hall. Designed to foster thought in the onlooker, the group’s art ranged from 9-by-14 feet to a staggering height of about two stories.

The Beehive Collective — a grassroots activist organization based in Maine — urges public awareness of world issues and injustices by taking their murals on cross-country tours to high schools and activist conventions. The group insists on being identified only as “bees” and refused to give their names. About 50 people attended last night’s event, which is part of the group’s two-day stop in New Haven.

One “bee” explained that the group tried to tie a variety of issues into each mural.

“We made a mind map to sort out all the individual issues, and then connected them to see how different issues [of globalization] relate, and also what’s missing,” the “bee” said.

The group based their opinions on their research and interviews from their center in northern Maine — a historic farmer’s co-op to grow and sell wheat communally — which has since been converted into a community activist workshop. The group has been together for about three years and consists of 30 people, six to 12 of whom are active members.

Audience members said they found the display informative.

“It’s really interesting,” Caroline Howe ’07 said. “This is a new perspective on how they say water problems will be the reason of the next world war. It’s something people don’t expect, and the usage of water in making silicone chips never crossed my mind.”

According to a Beehive Collective pamphlet, the production of one computer generates 49 pounds of hazardous waste, and gallons of water that become contaminated with silicates.

The intricate posters of the exhibit took years to plan and up to 3 months to create, one “bee” of the project said.

The feature poster, ‘Free Trade Area of the Americas and Global Resistance to Corporate Colonialism,’ took months of work to create using rapidograph pencils, raw ink and pens on a base canvas of recycled pulp and bottles.

The group’s focus is mainly on Latin America. For example, one “bee” said ants are used in murals “[to] represent the indigenous peoples and fighters against Pan-colombian colonialism.”

However, the group is concerned with issues on a world-wide scale.

“We are trying to organize these narrative murals on a national scope through pen and ink graphic campaigns, trying to organize awareness of the way globalization has been accelerated by companies,” said another “bee.”

He also expressed his concern that Americans are more informed about trivia than with world issues.

“Most Americans can identify hundreds of logos, but only 10 edible plants,” he said. “Our mission is to become a bridge between tactics, the people and issues.

The artists said they wanted to find a new angle to discuss the issue of globalization.

“We knew we had to reinvent everything people had talked about [on globalization]. We knew it would be powerful. We knew it would be embraced by the people,” one artist said.

Their tour of colleges and high schools continues through Dec 14.

Students look at a mural titled
Jie Zhou
Students look at a mural titled "Free Trade of the Americas" in Dwight Hall Monday. The work of art was presented by the Beehive Design Collective Project, an activist group.

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