Botanica celebrates the plant kingdom as a source of artistic inspiration. This exhibition features contemporary art works in a variety of media and materials, including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, drawing, installation and video, as well as ceramics, fiber and glass. Each of the thirty participating artists has created work that responds to the plant world in some way. The show takes place on two floors, filling both of the Museum’s main galleries.
Botany has a long and well-established relationship to the art world. Traditional botanical studies have blended artistic expression with scientific inquiry, while plants and flowers have been favorite still-life subjects throughout art history. Botanical motifs have been widely used as decorative elements across numerous cultures and historical periods. Additionally, plants and flowers have a long association with mourning and memorials.
Building on these traditions, the artists in Botanica take their explorations of the plant kingdom in interesting directions. Some work as faithful observers of nature; others respond to the work of botanists from the past. Several rearrange botanical elements to create arresting patterns, and a few even respond in new and innovative ways to Dutch still life painting of the Baroque period. Some of the artists incorporate actual plant material into their art, while others transform flowers into objects of memorialization. A number of artists in the show have created an imaginary “new” botany, inventing strange and unique hybrids that combine flora and fauna. Botanica highlights these artistic responses to botany and examines the dynamic relationship between contemporary artists and the plant world.
Perhaps one of the reasons we are so attracted to flowers and plants is that they are unabashedly frank in their beauty and mortality. Through our relationship to the plant world, concepts of birth, growth, deterioration, death, decay and regeneration continually replay in front of our eyes. We find in the life cycle of plants a reassurance that life continues.