The Whittier Public Library was abuzz Thursday morning during a conversation between local artist Jane Gillespie Pryor and a roomful of residents, students, bee lovers and friends.
The event is the second in a series of “Artists in Conversation” events to be held in the local libraries of neighborhoods featured in the “Through the Eyes of Artists” poster series commissioned by Metro Creative Services.
Gillespie’s poster depicts a residential community of houses made of honeycomb and populated by bees. The poster pays homage to the city’s namesake, poet John Greenleaf Whittier, as well as the indigenous population who called the land Sejat, meaning “a place of the wild bees.”
Whittier’s poem, “Telling the Bees,” was an inspiration for Gillespie’s poster. The poem speaks of a certain way that farmers and families communicated with the numerous hives and colonies that inhabited the area, rich with year-round flowers and green vegetation.
Beekeeper and expert Roberta Kato, a member of the Backwards Bees rescue organization, joined the artist in a program on the lives of bees and their role in the ecosystem. “When people have a fear of bees, it’s usually just a misunderstanding of behavior,” she said. “When bees come up to a person, they’re trying to push the person away to protect the hive.” Just walk away, she advises.
The artist signed complimentary first-edition prints of the poster, an enviable collector’s item for residents as well as art and local history enthusiasts.
Jane Gillespie Pryor is a visual artist working primarily in sculpture and photography. She has exhibited her work regionally and has been awarded the Maguire Teaching Fellowship and the Joe Sonneman Photography Prize. She lives in Whittier and teaches at Biola University.
The Whittier conversation follows the successful opening of the poster series tour at Compton Library with local artist Elliott Pinkney in September.
The “Through the Eyes of Artists” series portrays neighborhoods served by Metro and the posters are displayed throughout the transit system.
Categories: Metro Art