Rooted in eastern Maine is a “beehive” filled with many worker “bees” producing creative animal and plant imagery that is used to tell stories. The Beehive Design Collective, a nonprofit political organization founded in 2000, has been working to educate people about resistance, environmental issues and globalization through creative imagery in its latest campaign, “Mesoamerica Resiste.”
The Beehive is hitting the road to inform more people about the organization. Representatives and fellow bees of the organization will speak at Ithaca College at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 in Textor 102 to inform students and members of the community about why their innovative designs serve as storytelling tools and what the buzz is all about.
Contributing Writer Bianca Esposito spoke with Emma McCumber and Erin Mckelvy, bees of the company, about the Beehive and their presentation at the college.
Bianca Esposito: What is the Beehive Design Collective?
Emma McCumber: The Beehive Design Collective is an all-volunteer group. We are 12 years old, and it’s made up of artists, activists and educators who live and work together to create graphic work that tells a story. We create large format drawings that are printed both as portable murals, as posters and images. These designs serve as teaching tools to teach about environmental issues that are complex.
BE: What are the goals of the Beehive?
McCumber: The mission is to cross-pollinate ideas. Think of an insect, going from community to community, sharing ideas and stories and people who are affected by different political issues.
BE: What is the Mesoamerica Resiste?
McCumber: The Mesoamerica Resiste is a region from southern Mexico to Panama and a little bit of northern Columbia. We have been working for nine years on the biggest graphic design storytelling campaign to date to tell different stories about globalization and development, and how people in those communities are resisting invasion.
BE: Why are you coming to Ithaca College?
McCumber: Ithaca College is a part of our tour. The bees mainly work in our town, Machias, Maine. After visiting the region where we get the storytelling tools and make them into images, we tour in the spring and fall and travel around the U.S. and Central America, visiting different communities to share our graphic work.
Erin Mckelvy: We are excited to go to Ithaca College. It is a native voyage for the newest graphic. We strive to share stories in a way that make connections to places all over the world involving globalization, sustainability and much more.
BE: What will you be speaking about in your presentation?
McCumber: We will be using the graphics as a storytelling tool. We will be talking a bit about BDC and the process behind making the graphics and how they function as a collective, international work, et cetera. [Our] main focus will be on using the new graphic as an educational and a storytelling tool.
Mckelvy: People can look at the big drawing scene by scene, with all different animals from rabbits to butterflies, and weave them together to tell a story.
BE: Why do you think students will be interested in BDC?
McCumber: Our work is incredibly visually compelling. We have graphics on printed murals that are 24 feet wide that are stunning and will be at Ithaca College. We use animal and plant imagery, and we have over 400 animals and species from Mesoamerica that are representing different stories, and anti-capitalist cartoons that tell stories of development and resources in that area. Our designs are a compelling tool to help understand these interconnected problems and are great way for people to become interested in these topics. It is a fresh new way to learn that is much more visual, interactive and story-based.
Mckelvy: BDC also is fun for students and members of any community because it makes people come together in the same room that all have similar interests, ranging from environmental issues, politics, globalization and much more.