Aganetha Dyck (born 1937)
Honeybee Text on Canvas
A recent winner of the Manitoba Arts Council’s Award of Distinction and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Winnipeg born Aganetha Dyck began creating art when she was in her mid-30s and living with her family in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Dyck studied drawing, weaving, ceramics and other media with George Glenn and Margaret Van Walsem through the local Arts Centre. From the beginning, Dyck often worked three-dimensionally and she drew intuitively upon her domestic experiences as a mother and homemaker. During the 1970s and 1980s, Dyck shrank clothing, canned buttons and decorated cigarettes.
For nearly the last two decades, however, she has collaborated with bees to produce her art. Around 1989, Dyck began renting hives from local beekeepers so that she might place objects inside of them to see what the insects would do. Over the years, she has introduced sports equipment, shoes, glass, Barbie dolls, dresses, crocheted items, Braille plates, canvas and porcelain into the hives.
Of Hive Blanket, Dyck says:
The Hive Blanket series began in 1991 when I noticed the marks the bees created were not unlike ancient text and perhaps even similar to musical notes at times. The Hive Blanket is an ongoing series, going into its 17th year of research and production. The blankets vary in size from 16 by 16 inches to 10 feet long by 9 inches high; they include my drawings, text and honeybee marks of honeycomb. I draw with the bees on canvas by giving the bees honeybee pheromones. Pheromones are honeybee chemicals of communication which the honeybees use with each other and perhaps even with other living organisms. I personally like to think that includes humans. This method of pheromone communication was suggested by Dr. Mark Winston from Simon Fraser University. I use other scents discovered at perfume counters and in fields of wildflowers in my attempt to communicate with the bees. (Electronic mail communication with the artist, January 15, 2008)