a better nectar
Originating at the California State University Long Beach, University Art Museum, this exhibition has been traveling since 2015.

2019 College Art Gallery, College of the Canyons, Valencia, CA
2018 Hand Art Center & Gillespie Earth Science Museum, Stetson University, Deland, Florida
2017 The College of New Jersey Art Gallery, Trenton, NJ
2015 California State University Long Beach Art Museum, CA (UAM, CSU-LB published exhibition catalog)

a better nectar is an expansive multisensory installation through which the tender co-evolutionary communication between flowering plants and their pollinators is unearthed. Rath creates an immersive rhythmic experience, using sculpture light, and sound, to consider how bumblebees learn and remember multisensory floral signals to find better nectar.

The center piece of the project is “Resonant Nest,” a multi-sensory, human-scaled bumblebee nest that resonates human voice interpretations of bee communication composed by long-time collaborator Robert Hoehn. “Bee Purple” immersive light projections emulate bees’ spectrally shifted experience of the color wavelengths that attract them to floral patterns and nectar. Also on exhibit is the seven-foot  “Staminal Evolution,” a sculpture is based on flowers that require “buzz pollination,” a process in which bees vibrate a certain frequency to open the flower and thus release its pollen. A “Research Station” features the artist’s watercolors studies of flowers, a microscope with local flora specimens, a photo essay from the Leonard Bee Lab. 

Throughout the exhibition visitors are provided with a human-scaled experience of a bee’s intimate sensorial journey from its underground nest to an audibly and visually pulsating world, based on the Rath’s research with Dr. Anne Leonard at the Leonard Bee Lab, University of Nevada, Reno.

A Better Nectar was originally organized by the artist and curator Kristina Newhouse of the University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach. The project is an interdisciplinary undertaking between the artist and her collaborators, CSU departments of Music and Education, and some of the countries leading and most innovative bee scientists. Generous support for the exhibition is provided by Lauren Bon and The Metabolic Studio, The Peter S. Reed Foundation, The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, and a Mid-Career Fellowship for the artist from the California Community Foundation.

A 96 page catalog was designed by Casa Marengo, edited by curator Kristina Newhouse and features the artist’s process and essays by Dr. Anne Leonard and Dr. Antonia Szabari and Dr. Natania Meeker, co-authors of  Who Will Remember Us, Plants and the Archive (Edinburgh University Press). The catalog is available through the artist and the publisher, University Art Museum, CSULB.