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‘Hope Is The Thing With Feathers’ Exhibit Unveiled

Pictured is Maria Ferguson, curator at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, along with some of the artwork displayed at the new “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: Contemporary Women Nature Artists” exhibit. P-J photo by Timothy Frudd

The Roger Tory Peterson Institute recently opened “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: Contemporary Women Nature Artists,” featuring artwork influenced by Roger Tory Peterson’s own archives and artwork.

The “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: Contemporary Women Nature Artists” exhibit opened March 18 and will run through June 11. The exhibit features artists Bayla Arietta, Jennalyn Speer, Carmen Ostermann, Katelyn Davis and Liz Wahid.

Maria Ferguson, curator at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, told The Post-Journal that the work of each of the five women nature artists is connected in a special way.

“One of the things that groups all these women together is that they have a really strong message about conservation and sustainability with their work and they all have different ways of incorporating data into their work,” she said. “Whether it’s data from projects that they’re working on themselves, or research about ecological subjects or just information about birds, they incorporate that into their work, because they really want to share that information with the viewer but also present it in a way that really reaches us on both emotional and intellectual levels.”

Ferguson said the Roger Tory Peterson Institute hopes the new exhibit will show people the way nature art can “reach people,” share messages about “sustainability” and highlight the “breadth” and “depth” of nature artists’ work.

European Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca), 2020, stoneware, paint, epoxy ç Carmen Ostermann Photo provided by Roger Tory Peterson Institute and Carmen Ostermann

The artwork, which is displayed all throughout the ground floor level of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, showcases the expertise of the artists regarding the information they share through their artwork. Ferguson said each of the five artists are “very passionate” about their work and want to share the incredible amount of research they have conducted with viewers. She added that each of the artwork concepts are “so significant” due to detailed research and artistic quality of each display piece.

“Art is very subjective,” she said. “I hope that there’s something that speaks to everyone who walks through the door. I really just hope that there is something for everyone, that people come through the door and find something that speaks to them, whether it’s an individual bird itself, or just an artwork that speaks to them in a way that they find that emotional response and really feel what the artists are sharing.”

From her perspective, Ferguson said the new exhibit represents the “core” of Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s mission, especially since the exhibit features artwork inspired by the archives and work of Roger Tory Peterson himself. As an artist, writer, naturalist and ornithologist, Ferguson said Peterson “made a career” by combing each of his “interdisciplinary” talents.

“With everything we do, we try to keep in mind how that relates to him and what he did in his career,” she said. “He, of course, was so passionate about his work and about the birds, so in choosing exhibitions and in choosing artists, we just keep that in mind at the core of how does their work relate to what Roger had done and relate to his career.”

While all of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s exhibitions are composed of artwork designed by artists that are inspired by Peterson’s work, Ferguson said “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: Contemporary Women Nature Artists” is “tied very closely” to his legacy.

Ferguson is encouraging people in the community to experience the scale, textures and colors of the artwork displays “firsthand” in order to understand the “emotional message” expressed by each of the artists.

“I would tell everyone that the work is absolutely beautiful, and you must experience it in person,” she said. “This is really the only time that all of these artists are going to be together in an exhibition, so it’s a great time to come out and see their work. It’s absolutely something that you must experience in person.”

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