Ava Roth is a Toronto-based encaustic painter, embroiderer and mixed-media artist. She has spent the past several years working almost exclusively with beeswax with a holistic approach in concept, technique and medium.
She is guided and inspired by organic and local materials such as Canadian beeswax, reclaimed Ontario barn wood, birch bark, horsehair and landscape photography.
The concept of an inter-species art collaboration between humans and bees is fascinating.
How did you first start working with bees?
This collaboration began about 3 years ago, as a natural outgrowth of working with beeswax as an encaustic painter. Being immersed in beeswax led me to learn more about bees themselves, and a natural feedback loop soon started – the more I learned about bees the more that knowledge informed my work, which in turn led to more learning about bees. I soon found myself with an apiary in my backyard! The leap from taking wax out of the hive to use in my studio to just putting my work directly into the hive was almost inevitable at that point.
What a day at work looks like?
Bees are solar insects, and in Ontario, spend the dark winter months trying to stay warm inside their hives and not producing any comb. Because of the nature of our collaboration, their seasonal cycles dictate my work schedule. This means that I spend the vast majority of winter days in my studio, bent over an embroidery hoop or a wood panel, preparing pieces for the bees to contribute to in the warmer weather. Then, in the sunny months of summer, I spend as much time as possible in apiaries, sneaking peeks at bees and art!
What is your dream project
My dream project is a large-scale installation of honeycomb and embroidery. I’m not sure what, precisely, it would look like, but it would definitely involve transforming an entire room into a luminous golden den of comb and stitches. I’d love to create a visceral example of a place where humans and nature collide in a beautiful and inspiring physical place.