Serial (Imagery): Natural Phenomena

October 23 through December 26, 2021

On view in the Wilson Gallery

Overview

This series of exhibitions examines works from the MMFA’s permanent collection that focus on art created as elements of series—multiple compositions that relate to one another in some fashion—depicting people, events in time, or other factors that establish their relationship to a common theme or thread.

Part two of the series, Natural Phenomena, focuses on several contemporary artists who explore parts of nature that occur with no human intervention. Laquita Thomson (American, born 1947) looks to the skies above in her watercolor painting and computer-generated drawings. Fascinated with meteors and asteroids, Thomson’s images are similar in format, yet each new version differs to show both the progression of a meteor across the night sky and how the shape, and its tail, morphs as it moves through the earth’s atmosphere.

While Thomson focuses on the sky, David Maxim (American, born 1945) delves into one of nature’s most destructive phenomena on the ground, the tornado. Although aware of the destruction and tragedy that tornadoes leave in their wake, Maxim focuses on the physical characteristics of the tornado by portraying the awe-inspiring power and beauty of these spinning funnels of air. Each of his drawings focuses on a different vortex of power, based upon footage of actual tornadic activity captured by storm-chasers. For the artist, these drawings become a sequence that charts the personality and development of various tornadoes.

Natural phenomena encompasses more than celestial creations or natural disasters. Artist depictions of animals in nature connect us to the world around us. In her monotypes, Flutter 1 and Flutter 2, Jacqueline Bishop (American, born 1955) repeats her imagery of a single swallowtail butterfly with few changes to its form; instead, her only significant change is the overall color. By exploring the butterfly, a symbol of metamorphosis and transformation, Bishop looks to nature to allude to ecological issues while highlighting the delicate balance between the beauty of our natural world and humankind’s impact upon it.

Similarly, in his color engravings on paper, Still Point I and Still Point II, Oscar Jay Gillespie (American, born 1952) illustrates birds in sketched forms that develop into more detailed representations. He finds beauty in these creatures and relishes how they are an essential part of our ecosystem. Gillespie looks to find small but significant patterns and events that relate to the changes in our environment.

Although each of these artists investigates different aspects of natural phenomena in their work—from small creatures that can fit in the palm of our hand to forces that can dwarf us—their works of art connect us to our world.

Above: Jacqueline Bishop (American, born 1955), Flutter 1, 2015, monotype on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 2016.10.2

Although each of these artists investigates different aspects of natural phenomena in their work—from small creatures that can fit in the palm of our hand to forces that can dwarf us—their works of art connect us to our world.

Organizer

Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.

Sponsor

Support for this exhibition was provided by sponsors Mr. Will Hill Tankersley and Dr. Kristin Tankersley with additional support from co-sponsors Balch & Bingham, LLP, and AmeriFirst Bank.

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