When the Gibbes Museum opened in 1905, the nation celebrated what Charleston has always understood: the power of art – to inspire our imagination, heal our hurt, and nourish our souls.

The Gibbes Museum of Art to Display Works from the National Museum of Wildlife Art

Woman looking at painting of zebra

The Gibbes Museum of Art will exhibit a collection of works on loan from the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyo. from Feb. 3 – April 16, 2023. Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art includes 50 works created over the last two decades by artists including Walton Ford, Preston Singletary, Barbara Kassel, Dave Eggers and Julie Buffalohead, that dynamically confront categorizations and speak to the significance of wildlife in art in unconventional ways. The exhibit, coinciding with Charleston’s annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, will be on view in the museum’s third-floor galleries.

“This exhibit encourages visitors to engage and learn about new art forms and genres and advances the museum’s identified content theme of conservation and the environment,” says Angela Mack, executive director of the Gibbes Museum of Art. “Un/Natural Selections provokes visitors to consider their own relationship with the natural world as they enjoy a surprising range of aesthetic experiences.”\

Wild animals have been present in art since the first artists painted images on cave walls or carved figures in stone. In contemporary American art, depictions of wildlife have seen a recent resurgence. This continuum of artistic production reflects our ever-changing relationship with the natural world. Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art considers the diverse ways contemporary artists use animal imagery to address humanity’s interconnectedness with the natural world, exploring themes of tradition, politics, science and aesthetics to investigate the ways we use this imagery to tackle human concerns.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color catalogue produced by National Museum of Wildlife Art featuring an introductory essay by exhibition curator Tammi Hanawalt, Ph.D.

The museum’s department of education and programs has curated the following lineup of programming to further examine the themes of Un/Natural Selections.

Literary Gibbes Book Club, Feb. 4

Inspired by works featured in Un/Natural Selections, the Gibbes will hold a book club discussion on “An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us” by Ed Yong. The book examines senses and how every kind of animal, including humans, is enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble, perceiving but a tiny sliver of our immense world. 

Curator-led Tour of Un/Natural Selections, Feb. 8

Join the Gibbes Museum’s Director of Curatorial Affairs, Sara Arnold, for a special tour of the exhibition Un/Natural Selections. The tour is included with admission.

Gibbes Film in Focus: Forest Gods, Feb. 25, March 12 & April 12

Gibbes Film in Focus series returns with a collection of handpicked films that examine man’s relationship to and impact on our natural environment. From award-winning anime to speculative futures, this series will unpack the effects of deforestation and pollution through the lens of great filmmaking. This program is made possible by the generous support of Art Bridges. The schedule is as follows:

  • “FernGully: The Last Rainforest” 25
  • “Princess Mononoke” – March 12
  • “Planet of the Apes”April 12

Animal Adventures Family Day, Feb. 25

The museum will host a day full of animals, art and engaging activities for the whole family. Guests can enjoy animal pose yoga, art making, a photo booth, bunny cuddles and more. From story time in the galleries to meeting animals in the garden there will be something for everyone. For a detailed schedule of events, visit www.gibbesmuseum.org. This program is made possible by the generous support of Art Bridges and will be free to the public.

K-12 Professional Development | Un/Natural Selections, March 11

Teaching artist Martha Criscuolo will present a lesson plan and detailed instructions along with a hands-on demonstration for teachers to add a dynamic activity into the classroom, inspired by Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art. This series is sponsored by the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Gibbes Women’s Council, The Mark Elliot Motley Foundation, the Post and Courier Foundation, Volvo and individual donors.

Carnival of the Animals: A New Muse Concert, March 15

The Gibbes will host a performance of music for piano with four hands inspired by the museum’s exhibition, Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art. The concert, by pianists Ronaldo Rolim and Xiaohui Yang, will bring the tales of Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb and a parade of fantastical animals to life.

For Which it Stands: Art and Conservation, April 5

The Gibbes will hold a panel discussion on what role the arts play in advancing conversations about the environment and conservation. This series will discuss what defines the tradition of wildlife art and how the field is changing with the advent of social media. Ornithologists, conservationists, artists and authors with an interest in wildlife art will join this panel discussion. This program is made possible by the generous support of Art Bridges.

Bird Illustration Workshop with Isaiah Scott, April 8

Join Cornell ornithology student and natural history illustrator, Isaiah Scott—known on Instagram by his over 40,000 followers as @ikesbirdinghikes—for a workshop on bird and natural history illustration. Scott is the recipient of the prestigious Don and Virginia Eckelberry Endowment. His goal is to research and illustrate a cultural and field guide to the historic Gullah Geechee Culture Heritage Corridor. This program is made possible by the generous support of Art Bridges.

Additional Family Resources

Additional family resources will be available for guests to enjoy while visiting the exhibition and will be included with admission.

Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art is organized by the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Generous support is provided by Art Bridges. This exhibition is also supported by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the Jane Smith Turner Foundation and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.

Published January 24, 2023

Top image: Photo by MCG Photography

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