A silhouetted figure stands free while being surrounded by bees. This is Anonda Bell’s “Apiphobia (Biophobia Series).” I was lucky enough to see this piece in person and listen to Anonda Bell talk about the Biophobia Series. However, the first time I saw this artwork, I cringed because any type of insect scares the living shit out of me. Whether it’s the actual insect, a photograph of the insect, or even a drawing or painting of the insect, I will cringe every second that I am looking at it. I used to have recurring nightmares that a group of large flies were swarming over my bed, which resulted in me actually burying myself under the covers because I thought the nightmare was a reality.
Biophobia: Avoidance of contact with animals, plants, or organic materials; strong aversion to aspects of the natural world.
The painful stings of bees and the title clearly evoke the notion of fear, the fear of nature. But the silhouetted figure appears to be embracing these creatures, letting go of the common fear of insects. Bell states that, “This condition (biophobia) is a seemingly inevitable consequence of growing up in an urban environment where our interactions with nature may be limited to incidental encounters, strictly mediated and moderated by the perspective of urban planners, or those who generate media content (and sometimes benefit from propagating a fear of nature).” I force myself to thoroughly process every detail of this artwork, attempting to look at it for more than three seconds without cringing at the thoughts of bees crawling on my skin and
Deborah Lee is a curatorial intern at Gallery Aferro who is currently attending Rutgers University as an Art History and Communications dual major along with a Women’s and Gender Studies minor. Lee is also an undergraduate assistant at the Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities and is part of the Institute for Women’s Leadership program. Aside from her immense involvement on campus, Lee enjoys blogging, being a social media fanatic, experimenting with makeup, and singing/creating music.