Artist-in-Residence April 2022
Lori Weidenhammer is a Vancouver performance-based interdisciplinary artist and educator. She is originally from a tiny hamlet called Cactus Lake, Saskatchewan. It is in this place, bordered by wheat fields and wild prairie, that she first became enchanted with bees. She is the author of a book called Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees, published by Douglas and MacIntyre.
For the past several years she has been appearing as the persona Madame Beespeaker, practicing the tradition of “telling the bees”. As a food security volunteer and activist Lori works with students of all ages on eating locally and gardening for pollinators. On occasion, she likes to dress up in silly costumes and talk to bees.
Lori is a settler of German, Scottish and Irish descent, originally from Treaty 6 Territory in Saskatchewan the original lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota and the homeland of the Métis Nation and feels gratitude to be able to live and work in unceded territory of the Coast Salish nations.
“I am currently working on two projects that explore human relationships to the flora and fauna of British Columbia. I am revising the first draft of a mystery novel called The Bee Wolf, which is an eco-mystery set in the South Okanagan.”
The Bee Wolf: An Okanagan Biodiversity Mystery: Sam Truly is a young, feisty entomologist studying the behavior of wild bees in the sage-covered hills of the South Okanagan. While working at a field site on Woodpecker Ridge, she finds a burnt out tent containing a shocking surprise. A murderer has placed a series of corpses near the bumble bee nesting boxes she’s installed in the bush, leaving behind a series of clues in glass vials. Sam enlists the help of the ruggedly handsome bee scientist, Leo Bartsch, who has extensive knowledge of the natural history of the region, along with some dark, personal secrets. The investigation leads them into the world of mercenary mushroom foragers, ecological saboteurs, and honey launderers.
In the Weeds
The second project is a series of poetic texts and images that explore our relationship to weeds and the concept of “weediness” as they relate to pollinator habitat. The way we describe plants as weeds tells us about our relationships to the plants, more than about the plants themselves. Weeds are part of the diaspora that came from settlers who brought their favorite medicinal, ornamental and edible plants to Canada. Managing weeds, particularly invasive weeds, can be fraught with the troubling historical narratives of settlement. I believe we can find empowerment and reconciliation with the collective management of introduced plants. As part of this reconciliation we also need to take responsibility for the control of weeds that can overtake the native plant species. The first project that came out of this exploration is an artist book called Feeding the Migration (Painted Lady), which was inspired in part by studying the weeds that grow in the back alleys I have been frequenting during the pandemic. You can see the book online here: https://lightfactorypublications.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2021_FeedingTheMigration.pdf