Tremaine Exhibit Brings Nature Indoors

Upon entering the Tremaine Gallery, visitors encounter 30 lifelike illustrations of American birds and mammals rendered in vividly realistic detail. Running from August 30 to October 13, the Wild and Beautiful Creatures exhibit features the works of John James Audubon, a famed wildlife artist.
In the 19th century, seeking to draw attention to endangered species, Audubon created a 435-print portfolio of wild birds. Today, this portfolio, Birds of America, is one of the most well-recognized art collections of all time, setting the standard for future wildlife artists. Selections from the portfolio now hang in the Tremaine Gallery side-by-side with prints and taxidermy of mammals from other collections as well.
The exhibition includes not only portraits of birds such as the American Bald Eagle and the Great White Pelican, but also preserved nests, eggs, and taxidermy mammals. To better capture the details in his prints, Audubon euthanized animals and taxidermied them in natural-looking poses. Ms. Terri Moore, director of the Tremaine Gallery, explained that the arrangement of the gallery was deliberate; “I put the mammals on one wall, the bobcat in the middle of the room…and [the skunk and badger] really fierce and facing each other. There’s a narration there.”
Wild and Beautiful Creatures has

We took sketches of many of his prints in art, and that really allows you to appreciate the natural beauty of Audubon’s artwork.

— Billy Meneses ’22

been a work-in-progress for years. The exhibit is a collaboration between the school and the Sharon Historical Society, which is concurrently holding a smaller sister exhibit, The Life and Work of J.J. Audubon. Ms. Moore worked closely during the summer with Sharon Historical Society board member and curator Christopher Robinson to create the exhibition. Ms. Moore said, “There were lots of moving parts to something like this. It was really a team effort.”
The exhibit is open to the public as well as to members of the school community, having an impact that reaches far beyond campus. Billy Meneses ’22, a visual arts student, mentioned the vividness and clarity of the prints, which bring the animals to life. He said, “We took sketches of many of his prints in art [class], and that really allows you to appreciate the beauty of Audubon’s artwork.”
An illustrated and widely attended lecture on J.J. Audubon’s journey by Dr. Robert McCraken Peck, Curator of Art and Artifacts at Drexel University, Philadelphia, took place in the gallery last Saturday, September 14. On September 26, Mr. Michael Foley, Director of Arader Galleries in New York, will present “Audubon’s Art and Science: A Guided Tour,” a talk which is open to the public.