Susan's "subject matter, context and medium...present a coherent artistic vision"
John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

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Seymour Chwast

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Busy as a Bee




THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS CAPRICIOUS and difficult to learn. My friend, Bea, a Brazilian who is currently living in New York and learning the language, recently told me that she had "inhaled" all of the dust from her bookshelves. "Kinky," I thought, until I figured out that she had meant to use the word "vacuumed." Well, she got the concept right; both words mean to draw in matter.

Bea told me that now even her name confused her. In Portuguese it is just her name, but in English, it is not only her name but also means various other things.

I explained the three Bs–"be," "Bea," and "bee"– to her as clearly as I could. The three B's might even be harder to learn than the ABCs because of their similar pronunciation and varying spelling and definitions.

The word "be" is defined as to exist actually;

"Bea" is a given female name like hers, or if capitalized, an acronym (BEA) for the US Bureau of Economic Analysis; and

"Bee" is a yellow and black striped, winged, hairy-bodied, stinging, pollinating insect.

Bea mentioned that she had heard the expression "busy as a bee" and wondered what it meant. I told her about the bees' checkered work history and how their work performance has been aggrandized over the years. Most people think that bees are the hardest working insects in nature–a virtual paradigm of the word "busy"–and liken busy people to them. Thus, the expression, "busy as a bee." Geoffrey Chaucer started the busy bee rumor in his Canterbury Tales, (the Squire's Tale), way back in the fourteenth century, when he wrote,

"... In wommen be; for ay as busy as bees
Be thay us seely men for to desceyve..."

The buzz is that bees are not actually hardworking, industrious insects. Sure they are great pollinators but what is that ... just sex with flowers. Bees work neither efficiently nor hard. They are in fact very laid back workers and work only under certain conditions.

Apparently, they belong to a very powerful union, the Bee Labor Union for Easy-life, known colloquially amongst bees as BLUE. In true BLUE spirit, these bluebloods of the order Hymenoptera don't work if they're feeling a bit blue. And here are some of the conditions that make them blue: Bees don't even venture outside, let alone work, if it's too windy, too still, too sunny , too shady, too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot, too early, too late, too midday, too bright or too dark. This leaves a very small window of working opportunity in which those "busy" bees can perform their job. If any of these adverse conditions prevail, they ask themselves, as if they were Shakespeare,

"to be, or not to be [working], that is the question"

Their answer is always, "bzzzzz ... nooooo!" Under the aforementioned circumstances, they simply are not going to wake up, leave their comfy, warm hives and that absolutely gorgeous queen and go out to work. They don't think so. "Bzzzzzzzz ... noooo!" They would rather stay home and ...

Bee well.

Paint on,
Depingo

4 comments:

  1. I'll bee damned! I had no idea.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would like to bee there with you - keep you busy!

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  3. I had great fun going through your blog and website seeing your wonderful artwork!

    ReplyDelete