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New Roger Tory Peterson Institute Features First Resident Artist

Pictured are pieces of art designed by Alex Warnick as part of the “Alex Warnick: the Art of Observation” exhibit at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Warnick is the first resident artist at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Her exhibit will be on display until June 11. P-J photo by Timothy Frudd, Artwork by Alex Warnick

By combining displays of Roger Tory Peterson’s work and featuring the art of Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s first resident artist, Alex Warnick, the organization hopes to highlight the legacy of Peterson and “nurture” the next generation of artists.

Maria Ferguson, curator at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, said the new exhibit, “Alex Warnick the Art of Observation,” is the result of Alex Warnick’s time as the Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s “inaugural artist in residence.” Last summer, Warnick spent a week at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. During her time at the institute, she studied Peterson’s artwork, resources, library, study skins and everything available in the archives collection.

“She was really able to look at it with fresh eyes and kind of see things that other people may not have seen and notice things that other people may not have seen,” Ferguson said. “She then created a project and a body of work based on her research and really thinking about the way that Roger created the first modern field guide.”

Throughout her research and artwork, Ferguson explained that Warnick was able to add a humor element into her exhibit by examining the taxonomy work that came prior to Peterson’s revolutionary work with modern taxonomy. Warnick describes other taxonomy work as “false taxonomies” throughout her displays in the exhibit, demonstrating the impact Peterson had on the study of birds and nature through his field guides.

“Through her art she helps them to understand the transition that happened when Roger created his field guides and the importance of his field guides in really the way that we think about how birds are organized and how people use field guides today,” Ferguson said. “Her time as a resident artist was really inspired by Roger and by his work.”

Pictured are pieces of art designed by Alex Warnick as part of the “Alex Warnick: the Art of Observation” exhibit at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Warnick is the first resident artist at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Her exhibit will be on display until June 11. P-J photo by Timothy Frudd, Artwork by Alex Warnick

Ferguson described Warnick as a “birder” like Peterson, with a strong passion both for studying nature and sharing nature with other people through her artwork. According to Ferguson, Warnick wants to encourage people through her art to spend time outside, use a field guide, enjoy the opportunity to go bird watching and develop a true appreciation for nature and birds.

The new exhibit will feature six paintings by Warnick, which Ferguson described as “absolutely amazing,” along with some of Peterson’s work that Warnick wrote about through her time as a resident artist.

“It’s her perception of his work and her perception of how he changed the field guide,” Ferguson said. “Alex is such an amazing artist and I think that first of all, it’s just amazing how the birds that she paints have so much character and her work so beautiful, so I think that that’s going to grab people initially.”

By featuring exhibits like the “Alex Warnick the Art of Observation,” the Roger Tory Peterson Institute hopes to convey the work of contemporary nature artists. By highlighting the importance and legacy of Peterson’s work and “nurturing” the next generation of nature artists, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute is working to raise awareness for the work of both past and present nature artists, providing the community with a comprehensive nature experience.

Warnick’s exhibit will be featured on the second floor of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute until June 11.

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