“Animal Architects” featured in gallery

Nina Ajemian, Arts Associate

`From January 11 through February 2, the Anne Reid ’72 Art Gallery was home of the “Animal Architects: Influences on Human Creativity” exhibition. This exhibit showcased the work of six artists: Harry Bower, Linda Gebhard, Eva Mantell, Donna Payton, Kathleen Preziosi, and Richard Sanders. The pieces in this exhibit were inspired by the homes that animals build in nature. Donna Payton, one of the artists, and the curator for this exhibit, wrote in her curator’s statement, “The Animal Architects exhibition aims to open our eyes to the amazing engineering feats throughout the animal world, a reflection on the behavioral capabilities of animals and on what animal building tells us about the nature of human creativity.”

This exhibition provided a unique lens into the lives and minds of both artists and animals alike. In a panel discussion on January 26, the artists talked about their pieces, which ranged across many different styles of art, from photography to ceramics. Bower, a mixed media sculptor; Gebhard and Payton, mixed media artists; Mantell, an artist; Preziosi, a ceramic artist; and Sanders, a sculptor, all drew inspiration for their pieces from the world around them and, as a result, created a diverse and beautiful collection. Despite the fact that all of the artists represented found their inspiration in the same source, their pieces were vastly different. The wide array of mediums showed the diversity in nature between the structures that different animals build and centered on an often under-appreciated source of beauty in the world. In addition to the different types of artwork featured, the artists also chose different types of animals (and insects) and their homes to focus their works on, ranging from birds to larvae.

This exhibition inspired many people, both students and faculty, in the PDS community who came to the opening or simply stopped by to look at the incredible pieces. Jody Erdman, Director of the Anne Reid ’72 Art Gallery, said, “I am really inspired by the way the art goes from outside the gallery and transcends the walls and goes through the glass and into the gallery and then continues to climb from the floor…It just incorporates the whole gallery and brings it together as a whole.”

“Animal Architects,” which before its time at the Anne Reid ’72 Art Gallery at PDS was at the Arts Council of Princeton, will be on display at other venues throughout the winter. However, the exhibit will show different pieces, growing and changing much like the animal homes which served as its inspiration.