A Jarful of Bees is a multimedia, immersive short film created in collaboration with critically acclaimed painter Natalie Frank and internationally renowned artist/animator Erin Pollock, text by Pulitzer-winning librettist Royce Vavrek, and sung by Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Eve Gigliotti.
A Jarful of Bees is a collaboration between these five artists that explores the transformation of memory and the mutability of the familial relationship between a daughter and her father. The film weaves together Frank and Pollock's animated painting, drawing, and claymation into a dreamlike visual landscape that elucidates my score for vocals and electronics, and the ethereal voice of Gigliotti, who developed the concept for the work with me. A Jarful of Bees was commissioned by Jill Steinberg and WNET’s ALL ARTS.
The tapestry upon which the soprano line is freely set uses bee sounds, wind, warped records, percussion, and prepared piano. An intensely personal piece, the work follows a tripartite structure: an opening calm of waiting with solemn unrelated lines gives way to a middle section where the belongings in a small suitcase, including a jar full of bees, nearly explodes, and finally a type of requiem to memory ensues, utilizing distorted Lionel Richie fragments which bring the singer for whom the work is written, Eve Gigliotti, to a type of peace. My voice partners and shadows Eve’s for the opening and ending, bringing our joint stories that have somewhat inspired Royce’s lyrics together in song. I’m beyond excited to collaborate with Natalie and Erin. Their stunning and unique process and resulting visual world culminates a generative process of trust and collaboration for A Jarful of Bees.
"I was inspired to contribute as an artist conveying my own personal stories into a journey of abandonment, love, and rage. Paola and I worked with Royce to build a scene influenced by our experiences, using 'found' objects, symbolizing the things we carry and the things we leave behind as we choose to move through our lives." –Eve Gigliotti
"Gouache and chalk pastel drawings move slowly at first, as the film of Eve, the narrator, flickers slowly into painting. As her face transforms into gouache paint, the landscape around her blooms, and the color of the sky and nature shifts. Birds fly around her. Bees peak out of her mouth, gently at first, and then circle and rest on her silhouette. Eventually, what has moved from film into painting changes yet again, becoming clay. Claymation ends the work, with a sentimental dance between father and daughter. Mirrors and drawings of landscapes surround them and multiply their figures; they sway until they disappear into the earth." –Natalie Frank