Published on August 1, 2018. Interview by 2018 Summer Intern, Emma Brodeur. Rayne MacPhee is a printmaker and beekeeper from Greenville, South Carolina now living in Charlottesville. She is the Spring 2019 Artist-in-Residence.
Rayne is our second featured 2018 artist in our third 7x7x7 Series, which asks 7 questions to 7 Charlottesville artists and published once a week for 7 weeks.
If you had a free afternoon in Charlottesville what would you do or where would you go?
The start of my ideal free afternoon would begin by driving up to my friend Andre's farm where I keep my beehives! I would check my hives and watch the cute little buggers fly in and out for a while—there's something very meditative about observing them and hearing their loud hum coming from inside the hive. I have a little chair next to the hives, so I'd sit a while and draw ideas for my current series! Then I would go on a long hike in Shenandoah Valley and top the day off by going to see a show at The Southern.
Describe your artistic work in 7 words.
Honest markmaking, giving the voiceless a voice!
Who or what inspires your current work?
My current series is entirely honeybee inspired! A few years ago, after five years of bee-keeping, 30,000 of my family’s honeybees were killed as a result of a neighbor’s carelessness in using toxic pesticides that kill honeybees and other pollinators. My bees were only one instance of Colony Collapse Disorder, but this kind of human error has led honeybees to the brink of extinction.
This made me so angry! So I got to wondering... If honeybees could take their revenge, how would they do it? The similarities between hives and cities are too obvious to ignore; I imagined them covering our cities from New York to Los Angeles to Florence in honeycomb.
Taking this idea through to its logical conclusion, I researched basic urban plans and covered them in honeycomb, utilizing ink and graphite and lithography to realize my vision. This resulted in super abstract forms where the honeycomb drips and droops down the page. They're weird, but I like them.
Consider one piece you’re working on right now. Give us a snippet of your routine—from start to finish, what goes into making it?
I start by researching urban plans. They can be vast pieces of land, or a small layout of a neighborhood in LA—it doesn't matter to me, as long as they are visually appealing and I can invision honeycomb on top of it. Then I utilize tracing paper and experiment drawing layers of hexagons over the urban plan until I come up with an image that works the best for the space and the architecture of the honeycomb. From there, I map out the image large scale which takes a long time! I play lots of podcasts and music in the studio—99% Invisible is one of my favorites.
Once the image is filled out in it's entirety the BEST PART happens!!!! I get to go crazy with black sumi ink and make my image POP. I save this for the end and make a sort of ritual out of it. I'll play that new album that I've been dying to hear, or the final episode of a podcast I adore, and i'll reserve it just for the inking process. This is what makes drawing thousands of mini hexagons worth it all.
What have you learned about yourself as a person through the experience of making art?
The finished product of anything, whether it be in art or in life is insignificant when compared to the process. Those moments of discovery, those marks on the page that assert your very presence, the struggle and the overcoming—it's the liminal space between a blank page and the finished product that means the most.
What would you like to see happen in Charlottesville to better support artists in our community?
I have this dream of opening up a small art store here in Charlottesville. Big box craft stores smell weird. Online shopping is so impersonal. We have such a thriving and rich art community here, that lacks a good local art store. I'd love to open up an art store that could also be used as a space for local artists to exhibit their work / hold community workshops. I'm working on this!
What is currently on your studio/work desk?
The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the artist and do not necessarily represent the policies or positions of NCAI.
Rayne MacPhee holds a BFA in Printmaking from the College of Charleston, where she spent much of her time learning how to blend her passions of beekeeping and creation into a cohesive body of work. During this time, she received the Duval Endowment Scholarship and the Dean’s Excellence Award for Studio Art. Currently, Rayne is working on a two-year series that questions what our cities would look like if they were covered in honeycombs. In this body of work, MacPhee hopes to shed light on the collapse of endangered honeybees and give the speechless insects a voice. View artwork by Rayne on her website.