Art Exhibit Nature Observed and Expressed Displayed at Wabash

by Beth Swift

January 21, 2005

Get directions to Wabash College Fine Arts Center

The Wabash College Art Department announces the opening of its first exhibition of the new year, Nature Observed and Expressed. This art exhibit illustrates the varied ways artists are influenced by and respond to nature. The show features three artists —Betsy Stirratt, Linda Salerno, and Wabash College alumnus, Joe Trumpey (W ’88).

Stirratt, who serves as the Director of the School of Fine Arts Gallery at Indiana University in Bloomington, describes her paintings using terms such as measured luxury, voluptuousness and desirability. She says, “The process of composing layers of organic forms and lush color grounds additively culminates in the finished painting. The layers recall both micro and macro views of esoteric organisms, creating a sensuous surface, with flowers serving as a biological reality check.” Her work is very much influenced by current graphic and interior design as well as natural and biological forms and phenomena.

Salerno says that the genesis of this body of her work came in 1990. While in Italy, Salerno was surrounded by a garden and longed to record the magic she saw. She began by making imprints of the plants there with a tube of black paint and plain paper.

Nature is a major source of inspiration for Salerno. She calls herself a “primary observer.” Inspiration comes from a variety of sources such as the night sky, the colors of river moss, wildfires, plant imprints and other images she has collected over the years. Of her work, Salerno says, “I paint those fleeting moments which can only be recorded in the memory.”

Joe Trumpey was an art and biology major as an undergraduate at Wabash College, and received his Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of Michigan in scientific illustration. He recently served as the Chief Science Illustrator for Grzimek’s Animal Encyclopedia, a set of 17 volumes with 5500 illustrations. Of the project, Trumpey says, “Imagine an assignment: Research and illustrate over 5,000 species of animal life…Make sure each painting is researched, sketched, reviewed, painted, scanned, revised, reviewed again, composited and constructed as a digital file. Complete all 5,000 paintings in three years.” Trumpey calculated that it would take twenty-two years to do the project on his own. Instead he brought together 15 artists with degrees in natural science and fine art and they worked together as Michigan Science Art to complete the task in October 2003. Trumpey also teaches in the Art and Design School at the University of Michigan.

Of his time at Wabash this scientific artist says, “I've seen again that the liberal arts education that I received at Wabash College gave me a firm foundation for succeeding at even very challenging projects.”

The exhibition, located in the Eric Dean Gallery of the Fine Arts Center, will run through Saturday, February 19, 2005. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 8-5 p.m. and Saturday 10-2 p.m. Admission is free.


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