Convergence: Where Art, Writing, and Conservation Meet

By: Catie Anderson, curator of education on October 4th

Woodson Art Museum visitors, staff, volunteers, and area community members enjoy the Museum’s annual flagship exhibition Birds in Art for dozens of reasons. The artists appreciate the warm community of fellow artists that grows each year and take full advantage of opening weekend opportunities to discuss artwork with one another. The artwork on view showcases an impressive range of mediums, subjects, and aesthetics ensuring that each visit to the galleries yields new observations and fresh perspectives.

From a program-development perspective, I find that Birds in Art artists are all the inspiration I need to plan exciting guest-artist residencies, ideas for hands-on art-making projects, or themes to explore with visiting students in the galleries. The accessible nature of birds, the appeal of the outdoors, and the artistry achieved each year in Birds in Art create multiple avenues for Museum staff to pursue when interpreting the exhibition and engaging the public.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with naturalists and authors Stanley Temple and Joel Greenberg, learned about ekphrasitic poetry from Wisconsin Poet Laureates Max Garland and Kimberly Blaeser, and explored issues of ecological sustainability and biology with emeriti professors Eric Anderson and Alan Haney. The many cross-sections between the sciences and sister arts intrigue me, offer diverse entry points for visitors, and attract new audiences of first-time visitors, too.

Beginning tomorrow, Thursday, October 5, the Museum will host writer and outdoorsman John Gierach, painter Bob White, photographer Mike Dvorak, forest ecologist Alan Haney, and conservation biologist Eric Anderson for a series of programs titled “Convergence: Where Art, Writing, and Conservation Meet.” Their programs characterize the varied encounters and perspectives one can appreciate when considering art of the natural world. Gierach, White, and Dvorak are experienced trout fishermen and their writings and artwork have a national following.

The upcoming Convergence programming was the brainchild of two area fishermen and art appreciators – Dan Holland and John Meachen. Both Holland and Meachen are conservation-minded members of Trout Unlimited and fans of the Woodson Art Museum who approached me over a year ago to see if the Museum would collaborate on programs highlighting the intersections of environmental stewardship, the arts, and outdoor sport. Intrigued by their proposal and the possibility of welcoming expanded audiences to the Art Museum, I agreed and planning proceeded.

In all honesty, I’ve only been fishing once (photographic evidence at left), but please don’t tell these guys. I know I’ll gain new insights from the Convergence speakers and I hope others join me this week for meaningful conversations, art making, and storytelling.

P.S. In a recently added bonus to the lineup of programs October 5-7, Bob White will paint at an easel in the Museum galleries on Friday, October 6, 9 am-4 pm.


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