Matthew Willey: “We MUST Make Ourselves Vulnerable”

Artist name: Matthew Willey

Featured Work 1: Mural at Estes Hills Elementary School


Matthew Willey is an artist and designer in the midst of an inspiring international art initiative called, “The Good of the Hive.” He is busily painting 50,000 honeybees around the world in an effort to draw attention to the bees’ current environmental peril and to express appreciation for their unique beauty and behaviors. If you love the earth, beautifully rendered realistic murals or community art initiatives, you’ll likely find something of interest in this project. You can check out Willey’s stunning works, collaborations, videos and related goods on The Good of the Hive site.

Read his thoughtful and passionate answers below to better understated what this ongoing endeavor has meant to him personally and artistically, and learn more about the threats to honeybees here.

Featured Works Slideshow:

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5 Questions for the Artist:

1. What is art to you?

Art, to me, is the waking creation of human dreams. Some people walk by incredible art and remain asleep… other view it as the very life-blood of the human race and follow it like a road map. I don’t tell myself what to paint any more than I tell myself what to dream… but both happen in abundance.

2. What did you make in the past, and why?

In the past, I made murals that ‘beautified’ spaces. I started doing this initially out of sheer terror that I would go my whole life and not be able to make art… I needed a way to make money with a paintbrush in my hand. I couldn’t figure out how to make art AND have a day job. I fell in love with the visual problem solving aspects of the interior design world immediately. Whether that was a French traditional living room, a space library, or a sports mural, I really got off on communicating an idea through murals.

3. What are you making now, and why?

Through an initiative I started a year and a half ago called The Good of the Hive I am on a mission to hand-paint 50,000 individual honeybees in about 100 murals around the world.  I am doing this to continuously raise awareness about the issue of pollinator population decline… and I do it through celebrating their beauty and incredible behaviors.

4. What are your hopes for the future?

My hope is that I can grow into the most perfect incarnation of the artist and communicator I am supposed to be.

5. What else would you like to say?

The only other thing I would like to add is that as artists we MUST make ourselves vulnerable. I think this is what stops many artists from flourishing. Sometimes I feel so raw that I can confuse it with depression or sadness… I have come to understand that it is a form of resistance-based fear. Once I understood that, I started revealing the artist that I am along with the art that I make. To become who we truly are, artist or whatever, is what it is all about.

Artist Supplied Background:

Artist Matthew Willey is the founder of The Good of the Hive Initiative, and has committed to personally paint 50,000 honeybees – the number necessary for a healthy, thriving hive – in murals around the world. Through art and imagination, The Good of the Hive raises awareness about the current population decline of honeybees while celebrating their incredible behaviors.

The initiative views the hive as a metaphor for communities of people. Honeybees within the hive ‘think’ collectively; their immune system is collective: the health of the individual is based on the health of the collective. Whether that community is an actual honeybee hive or a community of human artists, kids in a school, military veterans, gay people, women with cancer, marginalized people, skateboarders, or the American people as a whole, the health and success of the individual relies heavily on the connections within the group– and consequently between the groups within the greater society.

Matthew has set aside a career in the interior design world because he realized that his own path as an artist was more aligned to its truth when it was being channeled toward connection–connection to the honeybees, as well as to the hive in which he lives.

Wiley’s work has received extensive press coverage, including with Huffington Post and This is Colossal.

Follow The Good of the Hive on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


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5 Questions for the Artist, © Julia Travers

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