Oikos

Oikos :: 2012 :: 12 x 22 x 2 inches :: Private collection

A few years ago I was invited to participate in an exhibit called “Market Value” at GF Contemporary in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Each artist was asked to create an artwork using a one dollar bill. All the works were priced the same, regardless of the artist’s usual “going rate.”

I was deep into beekeeping and had recently cleared my hives of older, heavily used honeycomb that was brown with bee-traffic. I was thinking a lot about “oikos,” the Greek root of the words ecology and economy, and in sociology, a social group in which the members have regular face-to-face interactions, i.e., quality time.

When a honeybee brings her load of nectar back to the hive, she regurgitates it into the mouth of another bee, an exchange that infuses it with enzymes and begins the process of turning watery nectar into concentrated honey. I imagined bees getting to work on a dollar bill, converting it into metaphorical as well as literal gold. I wanted to hint at the well-known but often unacknowledged truth: that any economy begins with ecology, and all wealth originates from the Earth.

Finally, my years of involvement with co-ops taught me how much a dollar recirculates when it is spent locally, so I was considering the oikos-space we share with the businesses we support in daily life.

 

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