Melba Cooper

In my earliest memories, I pin together fashionable flower dolls in the cool shade of mimosas in my grandmother’s Alabama garden. Thinking back on that flowery, bee-filled scene, I recall the words of M.C. Richards, the poet, potter and art educator at North Carolina’s Black Mountain College: “The Arts are our apprenticeship … the big art is our lives.”

The plight of the honeybee prompted me to explore images inspired by the Hive.  The bees are quite literally in the paintings as I mix cold wax (beeswax) into my oil paint.  I apply the mixture in many thin textural layers, shaping, adding, and removing paint to reveal the image.  I use printmaking tools as squeegees and brayers to construct rich and luminous abstract compositions on cradled wood panels.  In these paintings I imagine and long for the hum of a sacred regard for the Earth.

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