Common Threads in Unexpected Places

Last week, I meet with artist Jessica Rath so I could write a feature on her exhibition, A Better Nectar, currently being displayed at the Hand Art Center. Interviews are always interesting as I have the opportunity to ask someone about their work. I had been looking forward to this one for the same reason, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rath and I had more to discuss than my pre-typed questions.

A Better Nectar is inspired by the idea of seeing the world through a bee’s eyes. Rath spent time studying bees and their environments while working on the exhibition, and she believes strongly in taking individual responsibility to care for other species. She has even altered her plans for the future so that she can spend three months out of the year restoring her family’s farm.

While discussing this, I mentioned my own family’s farming experience. My grandfather inherited an orange grove that has been run by my relatives for roughly sixty years. It is now the last orange grove in the Floridian town I am from, where citrus used to be a thriving business. The dwindling number of farmers is greatly connected to the introduction of citrus greening, a disease transferred by small insects that prevents fruit from fully ripening. The oranges are left watery, soft, and bitter-tasting from the disease.

Rath then discussed permaculture with me, explaining how she researched the flora that bees were attracted to. There is a small wasp that eats the insects spreading citrus greening, and she advised me that planting the types of greenery that attracted the wasps could be beneficial.

I did not expect such an interview to go past friendly conversation. Now I’ve learned not to limit my interactions to the expectations I may have beforehand.

One thought on “Common Threads in Unexpected Places”

  1. Wow, that’s a cool connection! I had no idea you came from a citrus growing family. Stetson has actually had a number of citrus-growing families send their children here. Those Maxcy and Wilson names on buildings are from some of them. And of course the school colors are connected with the green leaves and white flowers of the orange groves.

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