Spring is upon us and as the crocuses, tulips and daffodils sprout and bloom, the Kaiser Gallery
will pay homage to our bee population while asking the viewer to meditate on how human activity affects these crucial insects.
Featuring the work of artists Melissa Harvey, Maggie Latham, Kimit Menapace, Georgio Sabino III, and David Straange, the opening reception for 'Silent Fields'
will be held Friday, April 8, at 6 p.m. The exhibition will run through June 5.
“The title 'Silent Fields' initially evokes a sense of peace and tranquility but with further consideration, true silence, especially in 'nature' is eerie, lonely, it's a void,” said artist Kimit Menapace. “This impression reflects the intent of Roger Lovegrove's book of the same name, detailing the war humanity has been waging on those bits of nature we have deemed undesirable and the long term impacts of this eradication. Bees, which are a central focus of this show, are somewhat unique in their role of being unwanted vermin and highly desirable pollinators and producers of honey.”
A Philadelphia native, Menapace received her Bachelors of Fine Art in painting with an emphasis in glass and fiber studies from The Cleveland Institute of Art in May of 2016. Menapace is interested in humanity’s intersection with the environment and is fascinated by art history, and the evolution of symbolism, particularly with plants across time and culture.
“Bees specifically are very prevalent in my work and they are depicted as beautiful and often fragile, when made from glass, organisms,” continued Menapace. “The delicate nature of glass insects communicates a sense of preciousness, the need to be careful and gentle, while also being beautiful and eye-catching, the mottled surface of the glass catching and reflecting light as the piece is viewed. I like to play with harmony and tension, through composition, mixing media and visual representations of humanity, flora, and fauna."
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
Cleveland-based fiber artist and natural-dyer Maggie Latham makes dyes from local plants, which she sources from her garden and which pollinators need to survive. She employs various techniques, including sewing, printmaking, papermaking and dyeing with the goal that her work ends up 100% biodegradable. Latham hopes for her work to live its life cycle then eventually go back into the soil.
In this exhibition, Latham displays a series of handmade paper sheets which are dyed with local pollinator plants like Black Locust, Yarrow and Coneflower. Each sheet has been painted with a 3/8” line of soymilk, the spatial measurement that bees live within a honey hive. This line appears as darker shade than the rest of the dyed paper. The paper is installed with 3/8” spacing between sheets. She says the colored lines in this series represent a reciprocal relationship between human and nature, and that the space between sheets represents the threat of its absence.
“Bees are vital to modern food systems, but I think it is important to shift our perspective on pollinators from one of commodification to one of reciprocity, which is reflected within my process,” said Latham. “For this series I used dyes from local species after their blooms had passed and bees had already feed on their nectar and pollen. In understanding the plants that bees enjoy, I can grow more of these and help those in the wild to flourish by practicing responsible collection. These plants then benefit my work by providing me with natural pigments.”
Latham is also an educator and has a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently works in art education at The Cleveland Museum of Art.
The Kaiser Gallery is an unassuming contemporary art gallery and cocktail lounge located right t in the heart of Tremont on Professor Ave. The gallery pairs artisan cocktails with visual art to offer a more immersive viewing experience. Serving cocktails allows them to waive submission fees, which they see as a possible barrier for underrepresented artists.
Kaiser’s Owner, Director and Curator, Tanya says the gallery is currently working with the Ohio City Farm and their beekeeper to design a public program that will appear on their calendar towards the end of the exhibition in early June. A possible partnership with the Cleveland Seed Bank is a prospect as well. A more sustainable future seems to be important to the venue and one might have noticed raised beds with tomato plants among other vegetation growing in the spring and summer on their back patio.
“I believe humans would be able to better face the reality of ecosystem collapse if we could work towards solutions that aligned with everyday life,” continued Latham. “I work with accessible, eco-friendly art practices to raise awareness about environmental damage and highlight more responsible alternatives; I hope audiences are able take away not just the dire situation for pollinators but are curious to learn more about natural materials and how to support local ecosystems.