From 2010 to the present, Lauri Lynnxe Murphy has been collaborating with bees in the creation of her artwork. Despite a bee allergy, Murphy remains committed to her practice, which she describes as being “research-based.” Seeking to understand the nature of bees, Murphy depends on them to make works such as Listen, symbolizing the need to pay attention to the signals bees use for communication. Or We’re Sorry, Murphy’s apology and simultaneously the bees’ apology for any disruption either collaborator may have caused the other. Similarly, her honeycomb sculptures are co-created with the bees. Murphy chooses to work with bees, or other materials that she feels allow her to appropriately explore issues surrounding ecological and political concerns.
Other than the current threat to the bee population Murphy has recently been concerned about nuclear power, particularly following the tsunami-induced collapse of Fukushima. Murphy produced a series titled, Doilies of Imminent Destruction. That’s an amazing title for some pretty delicate work. The series began as a “meditation on the banality of our dialogue surrounding our fearsome power to irreparably alter an environment, and an investigation into the corporately chosen, idealized representations of these disaster sites prior to the disaster.” Each doily depicts the site of a nuclear disaster: Chernobyl, Deepwater Horizon, Fukushima and Three Mile Island. Why doilies? Murphy recognizes the doily’s function as beautifying, or covering up the ugly or tarnished. They also reference an old-fashioned nostalgia of domesticity and desired perfection.
I am drawn to Murphy’s work not for the beauty of it, although it is quite captivating, but rather for the delicate, yet powerful call to arms it requests of the viewer. Whether it is her work about nuclear disasters subtly imploring us to concern ourselves with the danger of this technology, or her work about bees suggesting we need to be aware of the beauty and vulnerability of the bee’s ecosystem, Murphy’s work merits our contemplation.