Survival Blanket (Decolonizing the Hive) is a multimedia installation exploring beekeeping as a ceremonial practice and interspecies collaboration. It calls attention to Chávez's Peruvian heritage, referencing the Andean mesa a ceremonial altar used for healing and connecting with human and nonhuman ancestors and the natural world.
The objects comprising Chávez's tableau highlight various aspects of his artistic practice and honor Peruvian art and culture. This includes beekeeping tools, ears of corn fashioned from glazed clay and carved wood, weavings and textiles, ceramic and concrete potatoes, baskets, and mate burilado (carved gourds). The installation also includes a short video filmed at Chávez's Northside Workshop, a chemical-free native plant garden and native bee sanctuary located in St. Louis, Missouri.
Survival Blanket (Decolonizing the Hive) was part of the group exhibition "Sharing the Same Breath" at John Michael Kohler Arts Center
Sharing the Same Breath
May 20, 2023–April 21, 2024
Curated by senior curator Kaytie Johnson
John Michael Kohler Arts Center
In her 2021 essay “A Family Reunion Near the End of the World,” botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer contemplates our kinship with nature and proposes a road map for deepening our care and respect for all living things.
“Being a relative,” she writes, “is more than shared blood from a common past. Real kinship arises when we realize that we have a common future, that our fates are linked.” She goes on to suggest, “Real kinship comes when you live it. It’s not a noun, but a verb, it’s not a thing, it’s what you do.”
The cultivation of kinship with the living world is the foundation for Sharing the Same Breath. The exhibition brings together nine artists who consider the world’s complex web of relations through artworks that emphasize human, nonhuman, and interspecies forms of kinship and connectivity. These relationships are explored through a wide range of mediums including sculpture, photography, drawing, video, film, and installation. Together the works form a kincentric viewpoint that challenges narratives of human exceptionalism and encourages us to regard our symbiotic relationship and shared fate with our more-than-human family with greater attention and care.
Artists in the exhibition include Juan William Chávez, David Freid, Lindsey French, Emilie Louise Gossiaux, Nina Katchadourian, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Marie Watt, William Wegman, and Dyani White Hawk.