A Bee in Her Bonnet by Noelle McCleaf

Issue 52

A Bee in Her Bonnet (from Robert Herrick’s “Mad Maid’s Song,” 1648), photographically illustrates curious reunions between mother and daughter. Photographs are constructed from a combined source of personal narratives, reflecting on time lost and found.

Together as mother and daughter, we meet and recall our past experiences from what seems like lifetimes ago. The sweltering evening heat, lingering from oppressive southern days, induces visions of time gone by. Artifacts of relatives past litter the landscape, like ripe and rotting fruit—memories returning to the soil to be remade. Through pictures, we construct our chronicles, creating altered allegories from cultivated clues.

In these images, we revisit our ancestry through collective memory, remaking, reinventing, and reclaiming our history through photographs. Times have changed, and we have spent years apart, but when looking through a kaleidoscope of family film negatives, we find that we remain intrinsically the same. The photographs in A Bee in Her Bonnet catalogue our transformations and experiences from the past, through the present, and into the future. They create new narratives that continue to tie us together, worlds apart, yet forever linked in converging histories.

Noelle McCleaf lives and works on the coast of Florida.
To view more of Noelle's work, please visit her website.
Follow Noelle on Twitter

You can purchase Under the Tangerine Tree from Fraction Editions.

 Cat's Cradle

Cat's Cradle

  My Mother is a Bear 

My Mother is a Bear 

  Great Aunt Josephine Haynes 

Great Aunt Josephine Haynes 

  Long Shadows and Spanish Moss 

Long Shadows and Spanish Moss 

  Under the Tangerine Tree 

Under the Tangerine Tree 

  Erma and Milly’s Collars, 1898 

Erma and Milly’s Collars, 1898 

  Familial and Ancient 

Familial and Ancient 

  Mamma Ruth’s Apron, 1939  

Mamma Ruth’s Apron, 1939  

  The Filet 

The Filet 

  Daughter Unencumbered (Erma’s Apron, 1923) 

Daughter Unencumbered (Erma’s Apron, 1923) 

 The Scout

The Scout

  The Matriarch Assumes Her Crown (Family Hair Wreath, 1885) 

The Matriarch Assumes Her Crown (Family Hair Wreath, 1885) 

  Runaway Bunny (Grandmother Dorothy’s Painting) 

Runaway Bunny (Grandmother Dorothy’s Painting) 

  Guard, Guide, Direct, Protect (Mother’s Chant)  

Guard, Guide, Direct, Protect (Mother’s Chant)  

  She Still Smells Sweetly of Honey 

She Still Smells Sweetly of Honey 

  For All Relations (Of Flesh and Feathered Kind)

For All Relations (Of Flesh and Feathered Kind)

  The Outside Shower  

The Outside Shower  

  The Deep Woods Kitchen 

The Deep Woods Kitchen 

  The Mother-Fish 

The Mother-Fish