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Metaphor Crafters: The Beehive Collective

Continuing with the theme of visual storytelling from my previous post, I would like to share an Orion article looking at artwork created by the Beehive Collective.

Where Narrative meets Activism, by Susanne Antonetta

On the power and prevalence of visual narratives in modern advertising:

“Anyone who has been to a medieval church understands the shivery power of visual storytelling: the spires stretching up to heaven, gargoyles whose ferocity wards off the ever-present threat of evil. Nowadays, we’re steeped in the seductive visuals of advertising, like the images of nature that sell us unrelated consumer goods: breaching whales for insurance; canoe rides between cliffs for a herpes drug.

As imagery from all media feeds our imaginations, it grows more and more controlled by those who have a vested interest in how it’s perceived—government, mainstream news and entertainment, the corporations that want us to buy their products and ignore their transgressions.”

A description of the artwork – True Cost of Coal:

“The visual power of the banner offers a clear and intricate story that draws the eye everywhere at once, fascinating in its detail—the perfectly rucked cap of a morel, hairs on the legs of a woodwasp—and overwhelming in its breadth. With its symbolism and visual density—a family of frogs drinking black water from a poisoned well, European starlings migrating to Appalachia with Bibles, babies, and bluegrass guitars—it feels like the artwork Hieronymus Bosch would have created if he had been an activist. It sweeps through time, moving from prehistory through early mining and reform to the present-day dynamiting of mountaintops. Human characters are represented by birds, animals, and insects, many endangered, drawing together all of our struggles to survive in a degraded landscape.”

Viewing art as a dynamic experience:

“I find my skepticism gone by the end of the presentation, replaced by the excitement of viewing artwork that feels more like an experience than an image, communicating time, change, story, and possibility. As disturbing as some images are, the dynamism of the whole suggests no single ending to the narrative arc is inevitable.”


    • I love the sheer density of the art. I feel like I could spend hours just going over it and teasing all sorts of ideas and connections out of the piece.

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