Waxing Eternal

Beeswax sculptor LeRone Wilson bridges the ancient with the present; the spiritual with the physical

By Sophie Baron

Divine Circle.jpg

As the New York art scene's size continues growing, and becomes ever more varied and diverse, it can be overwhelming to keep up with all the talent circulating around. Yet, there are those artists one sees whose work is just so imbued with unique personality and passion that it is immediately unforgettable.

One such artist is abstract sculptor LeRone Wilson, who for the past 22 years has been creating art from beeswax, art that has a message as vivid as its medium. Calling his pieces, “sculpture paintings,” Wilson sees them as carriers of long-forgotten and ignored historical and spiritual knowledge, connecting the art and wisdom of ancient Africa with the African-American community here today.

Beeswax was used as an artistic medium in ancient Egypt as far back as the predynastic era, and by utilizing this ancient practice in a contemporary style, Wilson's works are bridges between the past and the present, or as he calls it, an archaic/contemporary fusion. As he layers and hardens his creations in a manner akin to how bees build their hives, including having the pieces dry in sunlight, they become extremely durable, unable to be melted, and hence also a connection to the future. As the titles of just some of his works imply, Divine Circle, Deep In Faith, Eternal Life Ankh etc., the artist feels himself a carrier of the spiritual energy of the ancient Africans and their supreme beings, Neteru, whose presence can be sensed in the lighting and shadings of each piece.

Wilson also uses bees as a literal and symbolic epitome of major environmental problems facing humanity, 70 percent of the food we eat is directly affected by bee activity, yet because of pesticides and other pollutants, already about half the bees in this country have died, opening the door to major problems if the situation isn't reversed. Wilson's artistic career began at a young age; born in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, to an engineer father and an artist mother who rejected a scholarship she was offered at the Art Institute, he learned and began to draw in childhood. He attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, working at several art museums there before returning to New York. LeRone Wilson, now 50 years old, is currently working on several upcoming projects, notably one which will feature Egyptian hieroglyphics, a language he taught himself, as a followup to the beehive he made for this year's Spring Break Art Fair, he also hopes to participate in Art Basel Miami.