The Beehive Design Collective is a group of artists that voluntarily creates artwork dedicated to “cross-pollinating the grassroots” for use as educational and organizing tools. The graphics are created anonymously and can be used by anyone.
Beehive has released an epic trilogy of artwork exploring globalization and colonialism in the Americas. The third and final installment, released this fall, is truly magnificent. For nine years, Beehive artists worked on this intricately detailed, double-sided folding poster, illustrating stories of resistance. Titled “Mesoamérica Resiste,” the massive map drawn in old colonial style opens to reveal “the view from below, where communities are organizing locally and across borders to defend land and traditions, protect cultural and ecological diversity, and build alternative economies.”
Mesoamérica Resiste is printed double-sided, unfolding from an outer square which depicts a top-down look at the region. This exterior reference point illustrates a superficial map made by outsiders with motives of profit. Latin America is displayed as a web of wires, pipelines, and roads that siphon resources out of the Americas by land and sea. The poster opens to reveal the world drawn from the perspective of an ant on the ground, at the base of a Ceiba tree. This view from below exposes Indigenous resistance and community-led alternatives to the top-down development plans of the exterior pane. For instance, unlike the outside perspective, the interior view depicts reinvestment, seed saving, composting, safeguarding important assets, community-focused education, sustainable production, mutually beneficial exchange, etc…
To create Mesoamérica Resiste, Beehive artists travelled from Mexico to Panama for five months to meet with people on the frontlines of resistance to global development plans. The stories in the graphic relate to current struggles rooted in the legacies of five centuries of colonialism.
A powerpoint presentation and detailed narrative of the artwork, useful for presenting and discussing these complex drawings in the classroom, can be downloaded for free at Beehive’s website. I recommend that teachers interested in using these materials download and familiarize themselves with the powerpoint and narrative in addition to downloading the poster itself.
Predating Mesoamérica Resiste, the first installment of the trilogy in 2001, “Free Trade Area of the Americas,” is a large “map of inter-connections showing the impacts of globalization on all life on the planet, and celebrating global resistance to big and bad ideas.” The second installment, “Plan Colombia,” explores the US-funded “War on Drugs” in the Andean and Amazon regions of South America.
For general ideas on how to use these graphics in your classroom, visit Beehive’s “Use our Graphics!” website. Teachers are welcome to initiate a critical coloring exercise with students, use the powerpoint presentation (guided by the narrative document), or post the graphics on a Promethean board to discuss their underlying complexity.