Need a break from winter; check out the flower show in O'Shaughnessy Educational Center.
An exhibition of finely detailed botanical art created by seven regional artists is on display through May 24, 2014, at the University of St. Thomas.
“Botanical Art in All Its Wonder” is free and open to the public; it can be viewed in the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center lobby gallery on the university’s St. Paul campus. A reception with the artists will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 26.
Shelly Nordtorp-Madson, the Art History Department faculty member who curated the exhibition, explained that botanical art is generally defined as photographically realistic depictions of plant forms.
“However, that definition can be too narrow,” she said. “Other artists also portray floral and horticultural motifs, sometimes extremely accurately and at other times giving the bare visual minimum to identify the subjects as plants.
“These creators can choose other media, or set themselves other limitations or challenges, whether it is the medium, the elements of the composition or the colors.”
A goal of the exhibition is to look at the variety of styles and media that can be used to portray the world of flora. Media used in the 50-plus works on display at St. Thomas include painting, drawing, print-making and fused glass. Some of the artists work outdoors, and some in studios, but, according to Nordtorp-Madson, each piece requires many hours of painstaking labor.
Student assistants who helped curate the exhibition are undergraduate Macauley Steenson and graduate students Lindsay Simmons, Brady King and Sarah Crandall.
For more information, including viewing hours, call (651) 962-5560 or visit the Art History Department’s website.
The seven artists featured in the exhibition, and examples of their work, are:
Marian-Ortolf Bagley, of Minneapolis, works out of her Kenwood studio and was a longtime design teacher and color theorist at the University of Minnesota. Her art often combines colored pencil and watercolor. Her works range from a 5-foot drawing of corn to a series of sunflowers in the process of blooming.
Stephanie Hunder, of Hudson, Wis., is chair of the Art Department at Concordia University, St. Paul. She takes ordinary plants and plantscapes and turns them into prints that are described as mystical, moody and realistic. She is a professor in visual arts and holds master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Arizona State.
Charles Lyon, of Minneapolis, is attracted to particular flowers because of their “rigorous structure and formal delicacy.” He paints gigantic blossoms and says “the opacity, translucence and transparency of the flowers’ petals are forever fascinating to me, and consequently my challenge as a painter in oil and watercolor.”
Sandra Muzzy, of Minneapolis, studied horticulture and landscape planning. She works in watercolor and has worked in nurseries, florist shops and her garden. She now spends her time trying to capture, up close and on paper, “those things in the natural world that intrigue me the most.”
Anna Rosenthal, of Winsted, is a St. Thomas sophomore who works in the classical botanical style. Her works are both hyperrealistic and personalized, and are the size of the delicate plants she paints. She has studied at the Minnesota School of Botanical Art and at age 12 began turning her sketches into greeting cards and notepads.
Nancy Hemstad Seaton, who resides on Hungry Jack Lake, north of Grand Marais, Minn., depicts “the intricacies of a dragonfly wing or a mouse’s view of a flower.” She paints with watercolor on both sides of vellum paper, which provides interesting spatial characteristics, and more recently is working with glass as a medium.
Jo Wood, of Duluth, describes her process as “painting with beads.” She uses new and recycled fibers and tiny glass beads to handstich her art. “The size of these pieces, combined with the density of the bead embroidery and the lusciousness of the colors, creates the impression of a jewel-like precious object,” she said.