Friday, October 12, 2012

Pursuing Beauty

This past week the Kohl Gallery opened an exquisite exhibit entitled "In Pursuit of Beauty: John J. Audubon and the Golden Age of Bird Illustration." This exhibit features works from Audubon, but also includes prints from William Beebe, Charles Lucien Bonaparte, Daniel Giraud Elliot, John Gould, and Alexander Wilson. The exhibit is scheduled to run until Friday, November 30th and is open Wednesday through Sunday 1-6 pm.

Philosophers have searched for an answer to the question "What is Beauty?" over countless years and from many different perspectives. The veins of a feather, the curve of a wing in flight, or the brush strokes that build a picture? This exhibit explores the question of beauty through the lens of the natural world. Audubon and his colleagues searched to capture the mystery, dignity, and innocence of the creatures that filled their world and often times their bellies. There is a focus in this exhibit on game birds and the practice of sport shooting in the United States. The added dimension of relationship between the subject and the painter creates a more intimate environment. It is almost as if Audubon is glorifying his relationship with the birds he hunts by immortalizing them on the canvas.

The addition of a video by Brian Palmer deepens the reality of the exhibit. The video opens with the stillness of the pre-dawn and follows a day at Foreman's Branch Banding Station. The audience is taken through the bird banding process and given face to face exposure to some of the birds that have inspired these great painters. “To see birds being released, taking wing—it’s the most wonderful thing,” Alex Castro, Curator of the Kohl Gallery, comments. “And at the center of it all, these beautiful still images of birds from the past.”Layering the still photographs with the video of the live birds blurs the line between the paintings and the creatures to create an oasis of wilderness right in the heart of Campus.
The careful and thoughtful planning of Alex Castro and Assistant Curator, Sean Meade, brought this breathtaking vision to fruition. On Tuesday, October 9th dozens of people gathered to celebrate their work at the Exhibit Opening. President Reiss and Dean DiQuinzio, advisor for the Kohl Gallery were present to offer their congratulations and comment on the astounding beauty of this exhibit.

To visit the Kohl Gallery click here.
To visit the Foreman's Branch Bird Observatory click here.

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