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Roberson Museum and Science Center opens biennial exhibition of scientific, natural and cultural history
Christian Gerisch, Leezdorf, Gorgosaurus libratus, Lambeosaurus lambei. Acrylic on canvas, 2018, 19.75 × 15.75 in (50 × 40 cm) Photo: New York State Museum.

BINGHAMTON, NY.- Focus on Nature XV, a nature-based artwork exhibition featuring 87 illustrations by 69 artists, is on display at the Roberson Museum and Science Center in Binghamton, NY from July 21, 2019 – January 20, 2020. The exhibition, which is organized by the New York State Museum, celebrates natural and cultural history illustration and the talented artists who create a connection between science and art.

Focus on Nature is a biennial exhibition of scientific, natural and cultural history. Since its inception in 1990, the exhibition has reflected the standards, materials, and skills of contemporary natural and cultural history illustrators. It has increased awareness of a genre that requires scientific accuracy for publications, interpretive nature centers, as well as many research and educational purposes. A five-member jury of artists and scientists select the artwork for each exhibition based on the illustration’s scientific accuracy and uniqueness, educational value and artistic quality. Artists featured in the exhibition are from countries around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. An exhibition catalog with artist commentary is available on the State Museum website.

“Focus on Nature encourages visitors to learn about the animals and plants around us through art,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “People of all ages, especially students, will be interested in not only the artwork itself but also the artists’ thought process and approach to creating each piece.”

“These artworks are great examples of illustrations of the natural world by a group of very accomplished artists,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “We’re proud to partner with the Roberson Museum to bring this nature-based art exhibition to Binghamton. The art showcased in the exhibit can serve as inspiration and encouragement for students to illustrate the natural environment and learn about the plants and animals in their community and beyond.”

“These pieces offer such a unique and intimate study of life on Earth,” said Natalie Shoemaker, Events & Marketing Coordinator at the Roberson Museum and Science Center. “We’re so excited and honored to host this stunning exhibition at the Roberson Museum and Science Center here in Binghamton, NY, and we hope these artworks can spark important conversations surrounding the life portrayed within.”

This year is the fifteenth iteration of the Focus on Nature exhibition and the illustrations reflect a variety of artistic formats and subjects. Notable illustrations include:

Octopus (Keuppia species) by Esther van Hulsen – this painting of a 95-million-year-old octopus was painted with its own ink. The fossil of the octopus was found in Lebanon in such excellent condition that it was possible to obtain some ink. Octopus ink has historically been used on occasion for drawing and painting most notably by English paleontologist Mary Anning who made a similar drawing in the early 1800s.

Gorgosaurus libratus, Lambeosaurus lambei by Christian Gerisch – this painting depicts two dinosaurs encountering each other in a riverbed in southeastern Alberta, Canada. Both animals seem unsure what to do. The scene is based on an assumption made by paleontologist Dr. David Hone. He theorized fully grown apex predators seldom go for large, healthy prey – a similar behavior observed in modern animals. The commonly depicted image of dinosaurs battling large prey animals would have been a rare sight, only happening in desperate circumstances.

Aloe (Aloe species) by Dorothy DePaulo – this painting is created on drafting film, a semi-translucent plastic film that allows the artist to layer pieces of film. The artist wanted to draw the aloe plant in the dominant view with its native habitat, the Sonoran Desert of southwestern North America, in the background. To achieve this, two layers of drafting film were used with the aloe on the top layer and the desert scene in monotone on the underlaying film.

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