Jan Dempsey Arts Center exhibit emphasizes importance of pollinators

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As Auburn residents mingled with their finger food, commenting on the photos hanging around the small exhibit, Bashira Chowdhury explained the importance of bees in temperate climates to those listening nearby.

Viewers were gathered in the Jan Dempsey Arts Center, admiring a collection of photographs celebrating animals that pollinate and their habitats titled “Pollinators.”

The event put on by the Auburn Arts Association, the University’s Department of Agriculture and the Auburn and Opelika Tourism Bureau was a prelude to Bee Auburn, which is to be held June 19-25. The “Pollinators” exhibit and reception was held Friday night and offered food, drink and local art free of charge to all in attendance.

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The menu, like the photos, had a pollinator theme. Created by Bashira Chowdhury, pollination ecologist in the department of entomology at the university, and catered by Durango Taqueria, there wasn't a single item on the menu that wasn’t in some way produced by pollinators.

“We wanted to design a menu that was all produced by pollinators,” Chowdhury said. “You don’t get these foods without bees.”

Whitney Morris, special events coordinator for the Auburn and Opelika Tourism Bureau, gave reason for the emphasis on pollinators.

“Speaking from someone who knew nothing about pollinators until recently, I feel like it's important to see the scientific connections between the things I eat, the things I wear and the things I do,” Morris said.

As for the photography, Morris said that the art helps those in the community connect the things they eat and wear to those that actually produce them.

“You can see a lot of beauty from the smallest of things,” Morris said. “A lot of us don’t like bugs, so seeing it from this perspective makes it educational and fun to view differently.”

All of the photography contest participants were locals and have an eye for nature.

“Photography is my hobby and my love,” said contestant Madeline Carr Bonnett. “I always enter the Auburn shows.”

Gift cards to local restaurants were given to those who won in any of the four categories: Best Habitat, Best Pollinator, Best Bee and Best Composition. The winners, respectively, were Linda Muehlenfeld with “Village Swarm,” Jerry Irwin with “Bee Thirsty,” Tricia Oliver with “Buzzing about the Beauty,” William White with “Honey, I’m Home” and Charles Ray with “Agapostamon." 

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