The Birds & The Bees: The Artwork of Ladislav Hanka at the Midwest Museum of American Art

he Midwest Museum of American Art is pleased to present a new exhibition featuring the work of Ladislav Hanka from Kalamazoo, Michigan. The artist lives with his wife, sculptor, Jana Hanka, in a world of nature that involves their passion of apiculture or bee keeping. While Jana’s work is involved with the subject of horses, together they have become master apiarists. Lad Hanka collaborates with active hives as the bees create unique beeswax or honeycomb formations over the top of his hand-drawn etchings of birds (he is a trained ornithologist), trees, fish, & images of other insects. As a scientist, Lad Hanka was very involved with field study of nature. But, after obtaining his MFA from Western Michigan University, he decided on the path of artist as his main career.

Hanka’s artwork examines themes of life, death and transfiguration – nature as the crucible in which the artist finds a reflection of his own life and meaning. Over the years that has meant going to visit old trees and drawing them from life, artist residencies, circumnavigating Lake Superior and of course angling for the various Trout and Pike he has needed as models for his etchings. The key here is that art is some kind of interaction with the experiences to be gained in this world and as one passes through those many experiences. The drawings and or etchings accumulate and be-come mementos from the artist’s experience.

Most recently Hanka’s work, which is the subject of this exhibition The Birds and The Bees, has involved close collaborations with honeybees through placing his works into living hives. Today his work can be seen in over 25 galleries across Michigan and the Midwest. His work has been featured in exhibits in Russia and his ancestral home of Czechoslovakia. This exhibition will close Sunday July 15, 2018.

Hanka will deliver a special gallery talk and show a mini-documentary about his work on Thursday, April 19 at noon. The talk and film will last approximately 45 minutes afterwards of which the artist will field questions in the exhibit galleries about the work on display.