Focus on Nature XI: Natural History Illustration Exhibition at the New York State Museum

ALBANY, NY – “Focus on Nature XI: Natural History Illustration” opens April 12 at the New York State Museum, showcasing world-class, juried artwork by top illustrators from 13 countries. This exhibition, on view through October 31 in the Photography Gallery, will feature 93 natural history illustrations, representing the work of 73 illustrators from the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa and Spain. The subjects represented are diverse, ranging from those only found in the artists’ home country to those that have a worldwide distribution.

They include the Short-beaked Echidna, the Platypus, and the Leadbeater’s Possum, all mammals found only in Australia, and the Red Andreaea, a plant endemic to the Agulhas Negras Mountains of Brazil.

Also represented are many birds familiar in the northeastern U.S. such as the Peregrine Falcon, Barred Owl, Connecticut Warbler, House Sparrow, and one of the world’s most widespread — the Barn Owl. There also are illustrations of an African Dung Beetle, along with the producer of its nourishment — an African elephant. Also included are recreations of extinct organisms such as the Apatosaurus (a dinosaur), Deinosuchus (an ancient crocodile), and Odontochelys (the ancestor of turtles.)

A five-member jury of artists and scientists selected the pieces on display, based on the illustration’s educational value and artistic quality. The exhibition’s goal is to demonstrate the important role illustration has in natural science research and education, to stimulate curiosity about the world, and bring clearly into focus images of nature that people might not otherwise be able to visualize. Jury Awards will recognize the outstanding achievement of these artists.

“Natural history illustration is both useful to science and appealing to the general public and yet it is an art form that is not often exhibited.” said Patricia Kernan, exhibition curator and scientific illustrator at the Museum. “Most people do not realize that illustrations are still often the primary means used to record science and give explanations of the natural world. While very useful, photography cannot completely replace the accuracy, clarity, and flexibility of good illustrations. For instance, special diagnostic features can be highlighted, the juxtapositioning of important information can be accomplished, abstract concepts can be diagramed, and extinct organisms can be brought to life. There are examples of all of these in this exhibition.”

Many of the illustrations are created for field guides, textbooks, science articles and presentations. Some of these publications are included in exhibition cases.

More information about “Focus on Nature” can be found at: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/fon/ An online catalog with images and statements by the artists, as well as the names of Jury Award winners, will be available on this website after April 13.

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