Glenbow abuzz with glassworks

By Connor Sadler

Defying expectations that glass art is delicate, Calgary- based art collective Bee Kingdom’s works are robust, satirical and amusing.

The group’s new exhibition, Bee Kingdom: Iconoclasts in Glass, reflects artistic activity in Calgary. Mary-Beth Laviolette, curator of the exhibit, thinks the pieces show a unique approach to glass art.

“[Bee Kingdom] has a lot of imagination in terms of the art that they are creating,” says Laviolette. “They have a very do it yourself ethic and they are pushing the boundaries of what people think glass is traditionally all about.”

Shaping glass into something appealing and approachable is difficult. However, Ryan Marsh Fairweather, a member of Bee Kingdom, says that’s what’s new with the group’s approach. Fairweather, along with fellow Bee Kingdom members Tim Belliveau and Philip Bandura, create art that explores a particular narrative or message.

Each member takes a different approach to their glass blowing and each draw on different sources for inspiration.

Fairweather’s art is a blend of nerd and Japanese kawaii culture in Weathermachines, which includes creatures that inhabit a post-apocalyptic utopia after humans have died out.

Tim Belliveau’s pieces are based on ideas that blend mythology, wilderness and civilization to create a small set of landscapes titled Future Forest.

Freedom Co. is a fictitious American company created by Phillip Bandura. Freedom Co. produces satirical non-weaponized bombs that reforest polluted areas.

Laviolette thinks Bee Kingdom’s work exemplifies the enthusiasm blossoming in Calgary’s art scene.

“Calgary is known for its humour in art. People are kind of irreverent and sometimes satirical, and you see that in some local artists. It’s a characteristic that you are more likely to encounter in Calgary than other Canadian city.”

Bee Kingdom: Iconoclasts in Glass is on display until Sept. 28 on the fourth floor of the Glenbow Museum.

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