Between Us Mentorship & Production
Summer 2021 & 2022
for information about the Between Us exhibition follow this link
Between Us is a long-term creative relationship – part mentorship, part collaboration – connecting senior artist Aganetha Dyck with selected artists, beekeepers and honeybees in Regina, Yorkton, Swift Current, Estevan and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
Between Us refers to the distances and differences between us, especially evident during social isolation due to COVID-19. The project title also refers to the wondrous experiences that bind us together; "us" includes humans and non-human collaborators. Between Us develops relationships of mutual learning and respect between disciplines and species through multisensory artistic partnership. Aganetha cannot travel or have direct contact with bees, so from the start, we conceived Between Us as a "collaboration from a distance."
Over two "bee seasons," artists create and prepare artworks, with Aganetha’s guidance, to be altered by honeybees, while their contact with honeybees is supervised by experienced professional beekeepers. Under the nurturing attention of beekeepers, the bees will transform the objects placed in the hive, augmenting it with frills, bridging gaps and mending cracks with their golden wax. The surprises emerging from artists, bees, and beekeepers working together are essential to the creative outcomes of Between Us.
Curator Sandee Moore places still life compositions created by Artist George Glenn into a beehive at Hamilton Apiaries at the start of the Between Us pilot project in summer 2020.
The methods and materials employed by artists involved in the project Between Us are safe for bees. Precautions taken to avoid harming bees include educating the artists about materials and behaviours that may disturb bees. Opening the hive is limited to every two weeks at most. Artists and beekeepers consult regularly to respond to observed bee activities and improving artistic outcomes; they may relocate items from an unproductive hive, apply or remove wax sheets, or place frames near objects in the hive. Weather, predators, and honeybee health may all impact the bees’ comb-building activities and are carefully managed by the beekeepers.
Artists participating in Between Us were selected by a committee and represent the regions served by the AGR’s organizational partners – Estevan Art Gallery and Museum, Art Gallery of Swift Current, The Godfrey Dean Art Gallery (Yorkton), and The Mann Art Gallery (Prince Albert) – in the project.
Aganetha Dyck with artworks created with honeybee collaborators. Photo from the Winnipeg Free Press.
Aganetha, who became an artist while living in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, has been creating artwork assisted by honeybees and beekeepers for over 20 years. She has meticulously developed and researched her methods by working closely with bees, beekeepers and entomologists, and building an understanding of honeybees as sentient and valued artistic collaborators.
The AGR’s ethics policy guides this project, as do the words of Aganetha Dyck: "I won't share all of my secrets because there are no secrets, only collaboration."
Artworks co-created by bees and artists will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of Regina in the fall of 2023, afterward touring to other galleries throughout the province of Saskatchewan and beyond.
"Artist creates a buzz at Regina Culture Days with her honeybee collaborators" by Lynn Geisbrecht in the Regina Leader-Post, October 9, 2021.
October 16, 2021, Découvrir le monde des abielles lors de la fête de la culture, radio canada, Doris Labrie, https://ici.radio-canada.ca/ohdio/premiere/emissions/pour-faire-un-monde/segments/entrevue/375265/aganetha-dyck-culture-days-regina-abeilles
Aganetha Dyck online artist's talk, September 25
ABOUT AGANETHA DYCK
Dyck is one of Canada’s most successful contemporary artists internationally; she is particularly known for her collaborations with honeybees. Dyck’s Mennonite heritage and its emphasis on thrift is a source of inspiration for her artwork in which she commonly gives new life to broken and discarded items. Famously, she has reshaped wool sweaters into tiny, shrunken effigies, used family pickling recipes to preserve buttons from the sewing factory that occupied her studio before it was a space for artists and placed hand-crocheted doilies and broken porcelain figurines into beehives to be “mended” by the bees.
Dyck’s artworks reframe bees as conscious agents who are creative and multisensorial communicators. While empathy for these insects will not be new to beekeepers, Dyck’s artworks reveal possibilities for the public to dismiss their fear and instead experience empathy and caring for all pollinators.
Hanna Yokozawa Farquharson
Hanna moved from Japan to Saltcoats with her husband and children in 2011. Inspired by the prairie landscape and the quilt makers in her local community, she purchased a manual sewing machine and began making quilts and other textile art works that reflect the rich and nuanced local culture, blending imagery from rural Saskatchewan with the Japanese aesthetic qualities of wabi-sabi and mono-no-aware. The concept refers finding Happiness in life and the ephemeral nature of beauty, which is captured in her soothing and melancholy use of a neutral palette and the elegant simplicity of her patterns and stitches. Her approach creates a sense of peace and calm in the viewer while also stimulating a conversation between Japanese and Canadian cultures, forging an intimate connection between the two places. Her art is never negative but full of happiness within.
Kelly Litzenberger is a Saskatchewan born artist that works in LEGO and photography. He grew up skateboarding and listening to an eclectic record collection amongst a generation of farmers. Though determined to escape the prairies, it inadvertently shaped the sensibilities that dictate much of his work today.
Kelly is also the Director of MEEP Creative Agency in Yorkton, SK - a small design studio specializing in branding and marketing. Prior to forming MEEP he spent seven years working as an Editorial and Art Director for Canada’s longest running skateboard magazine in Vancouver, BC, as well as five years as a small business owner.
In 2018, Godfrey Dean Art Gallery in Yorkton, SK hosted Kelly’s first solo exhibition, Yorkton: LEGO City.
North Portal, SK
Last Birds is a Folk Americana duo from North Portal, Saskatchewan consisting of 2020 Canadian Folk Music Award nominees, Lindsay Arnold and Mike Davis. Keeping instrumentation minimal, Last Birds' songs hearken to the early days of country folk music whileexploring dilemmas of the modern world.Lindsay Arnold is a visual artist, filmmaker, songwriter and musician. Her paintings, drawings and videos exploring the female experience have beenexhibited internationally. MikeDavis is songwriter and musician. Heplays acoustic and electric guitar and has worked as professional musician since the age of 16.