Why This Matters: The colorful public artwork “Nested Hive,” by Houston-based artist team RE:site, encourages interaction with the artwork and nature.
By Bernie Petit
“Nested Hive,” the kaleidoscopic public artwork installed in November at Mecklenburg County’s new Eastway Regional Recreation Center, explores our relationship with nature and celebrates all of nature’s primary insect pollinators.
Created by Houston-based artist team RE:site, the public artwork is made from steel and IPE, a weather- and insect-resistant exotic hardwood.
“The sculpture’s form is inspired by the whimsical idea of a giant hive or nest that has split open after falling from a tree, allowing visitors to enter after the insects have left the structure to find a new home,” said RE:site in its artist statement.
The artwork’s title offers multiple meanings. It alludes to beehives and wasp and hornet nests, as well as how the sculptural pavilion appears to “nest” within the site’s landscaped, architecturally designed pollinator garden.
Its geometric composition suggests quilt and basket weaving patterns found in several cultures. Nest-like seating areas located inside the structure invite interaction and play. The sculpture’s bright colors were inspired by native wildflowers.
“‘Nested Hive’ emphasizes the link between humans and nature,” said Todd Stewart, senior program director for public art at ASC. “The artists did an outstanding job of considering how the artwork would exist within the site and how visitors would interact with it.
“That balance makes it easy for visitors to view themselves in relationship not only to the sculpture, but to the surrounding site and landscape. That is no small feat.”
The artwork will connect to the recreational and nature-based educational programming opportunities at the new Mecklenburg County facility. The artists worked with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation’s Department of Natural Resources to ensure that the artwork would support the department’s educational goals in aesthetics as well as function.
The public artwork will “draw visitors outside and invite them to explore the surrounding trail system and playing fields,” Stewart said. “Specifically, the sculpture will be used as an outdoor, nature-based classroom.”
Therein lies the strength of this pavilion-style artwork. Not only is it visually captivating, but it encourages exploration from multiple angles.
“Sculpture is all about space,” Stewart said. “‘Nested Hive’ allows viewers to walk in and through its dramatic forms. Its relationship to architecture takes something that visitors may be familiar with, such as buildings, and makes them strange and new, provoking thoughts and emotions.”