Elements

Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation presents Elements from 19 March to 30 June 2015. This exhibition features drawings and watercolors of bird nests with a focus on the natural and man-made materials incorporated into these architectural structures. Photographs of forest understory will transport the viewer between the landscape and the ephemeral artifacts that signify the remains of a cycle of building, incubating, nesting and fledging. The featured artists are Sue Abramson, Wendy Brockman, David Morrison and Kate Nessler. The creators of these drawings and watercolors of bird nests and photographs of transitional landscapes are inspired by the relationship of the nest to time, place, music and architecture. Each artist has imbued the structures and the materials used and the locations and environments where built with their individual insight and perspective. Also included in the exhibition is a selection of birds, nests and eggs on loan from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Pittsburgh artist Sue Abramson’s photographs of the Frick Park woodlands are a response to the raw materials in nests and the extraordinary visual chaos of these habitats. Minnesota artist Wendy Brockman’s watercolors of nests, eggs, feathers and plant materials are rich with nuance and complexity and speak of time and place. Indiana artist David Morrison’s colored pencil drawings are an exploration of the issues of existence, regeneration and obsessiveness through his examination of the layers of natural and found objects that compose the architectural structures of nests. Arkansas artist Kate Nessler’s watercolors are expressive of symphonic movements, and they reflect the intrinsically creative and practical use of disparate materials that are woven to create a space of strength and balance that are essential for survival.

Opening reception

The opening reception on 19 March (5–7 pm) is open to the public. Beginning at 5:30 pm each of the four artists will introduce their work in the Elements exhibition. This is an opportunity to meet all of the artists.

Talk one-on-one with the artists

On Friday, 20 March, 10 am–noon and 1–4 pm, visit the gallery at any time during the designated hours and talk one-on-one with three of the artists. Abramson, Brockman and Nessler will be available to discuss their concepts and process and will display their materials, and Brockman also will demonstrate her painting technique. This event is free and open to the public.

Open House 2015

Our annual Open House on Sunday, 28 June (1:00–4:30 pm) will include the talk “Nest structures of North American birds and the materials used in their creation” (1:30–2:30 pm) by Patrick McShea, program officer and educator, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and tours of the Elements exhibition and the reading room (2:30–4:00 pm). This event is free and open to the public.

Cabinet of curiosities

The Cabinet of curiosities in the Hunt Institute lobby will display bird illustrations from the Library’s rich collection of natural history and art books, including Mark Catesby’s (1683–1749) exquisite folio, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (London, the author, 1731), and works by microscopist Marcello Malpighi (1628–1694), natural historian the Comte de Buffon (1707–1788) and the artist George Brookshaw (1751–1823).

Hours

The exhibition will be on display on the 5th floor of the Hunt Library building at Carnegie Mellon University and will be open to the public free of charge. Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 am–noon and 1–5 pm; Sunday, 1–4 pm (except 3–5 April, 3 May and 24–25 May). Because our hours of operation are occasionally subject to change, please call or email before your visit to confirm. For further information, contact the Hunt Institute at 412-268-2434.

  • Clockwise from above left: Assemblage, watercolor and pencil on Kelmscott vellum by Kate Nessler, 2014, 30.5 × 22", © 2014 Kate Nessler, All rights reserved; Bird Nest Series No.1, colored pencil on paper by David Morrison, 2014, 13 × 19", © 2014 David Morrison, All rights reserved; Woven Trees, archival ink-jet print from 2.25 film negative by Sue Abramson, 2014, 24 × 24", © 2014 Sue Abramson, All rights reserved; Epilogue, watercolor on Cowley’s veiny calfskin vellum by Wendy Brockman, 2014, 27 × 23", © 2014 Wendy Brockman, All rights reserved.