Two years in the making, the image is the culmination of an intensive and collaborative research process, as the Beehive methodology centers on first hand story-sharing. To create the poster, the Beehive interviewed hundreds of community members throughout the Appalachia region. "We feel it's extremely important to gather our information from as close to the source as possible," a Beehive illustrator says.
The Bees craft visual metaphors and weave them together in a patchwork "quilt" of personal stories. In their interactive picture-lectures, the Bees lead audiences through an engaging, larger-than-life banner version of the graphic, interweaving anecdotes, statistics, and history. The experience prompts discussion and understanding of contemporary struggles about energy and coal, while honoring the deep legacy of the Appalachian experience. Upon seeing the graphic, Tanya Turner of Pineville, KY said, "This image is changing Appalachia. Appalachians are taking back Appalachia and this image is a tool for that change."
"The True Cost of Coal" is only the latest work in the Beehive's repertoire of graphics campaigns. The Beehive hums with activity, tackling issues as diverse as biotechnology, corporate globalization, food and agriculture, and colonialism. The group's mission is to "cross-pollinate the grassroots" by creating images that educate the public and deconstruct complex geopolitical issues. Their body of work is distributed as "anti-copyright;" individuals and organizations are encouraged to reproduce the graphics for non-profit use as a means of circulating information and awareness.
The Beehive Collective is currently booking a nation-wide tour to distribute the graphic. For more information and to view the graphics visit www.beehivecollective.org OR beehivecollective.blogspot.com.
Room and time TBA.