The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum features an exhibit of bees in art that celebrates regional organ donations.

ARORA, Arkansas’ largest organ, tissue and eye recovery agency, is dispersing the exhibit throughout the state, said Laura Wattles, the museum’s marketing coordinator.

The facility includes 107 bees believed to represent the 107 organ donors who donated through ARORA in 2021. ARORA facilitated 316 organ donations from those 107 donors. This is the most donations ARORA has collected in a year since the organization was founded in 1987, according to a press release.

ARORA officials are asking museums and businesses across the state to install the 107 bees as a show of support.

“ARORA ‘Bees’ will be buzzing around the state in different guises throughout the month,” according to the press release.

The goal is to encourage Arkansans to become organ donors.

“Well, we all think being a donor is very important and a positive thing. It was just a way to support that, to promote that,” Wattles said.

Little Rock artist Vimarie DePoyster designed the installation, Wattles said. Wattles said setting up the exhibit also allows the museum to support DePoyster.

The group chose to focus on bees “because bees are so essential to sustaining life,” Wattles said in an email. Bees are representative of the importance of becoming an organ donor.

“When collectively assembled, these 18-inch by 18-inch panels will tell the story of donation, honor donors and recipients, provide information on how to become an organ and tissue donor, and provide stunning visual appeal” , according to a press release.

April is National Gift of Life Month. This year’s theme is “Bee” a giver.

Alex Gladden graduated from the University of Arkansas. She previously worked for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and The Jonesboro Sun before joining The Times Record. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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