SHARON – With little in common but reverence for nature, three very different artists examine the elegant forms and fragile beauty of plants, flowers and organic life in a lovely exhibit in the Gallery at Mass Audubon’s Moose Hill.
Curator Jan Nareski Goba has brought together botanical artist Kay Kopper, ceramicist Jennifer Langhammer and watercolorist Mary Wilkas whose varied styles and materials capture the “Uninterrupted Connections” that bind the natural world.
Featuring 52 works, the show runs through Sept. 8 in the gallery at 293 Moose Hill Parkway, Sharon.
“These artists each possess a distinctive ability to look at nature and record its intricate complexity,” said Nareski Goba. “Their varied approaches make this show special because - despite their differences – they together create an exceptional balance of color, form and imagery.”
The exhibit was initially envisioned as a show with a single artist, but after Nareski Goba and juror and art educator Diana Hampe saw the breadth of submissions they decided to feature three artists who shared an interest in expressing the web of life through different media.
Kopper is showing 16 striking botanical watercolors that display such precise detail of structure and shading they resemble actual specimens.
Examining cattails or milkweed beneath a magnifying glass, the Pembroke resident captures the sturdy branches and delicate leaves while infusing vitality to the plant that brings it alive in the gallery.
“I work as true to the plant as possible,” she said. “Whether I’m working with a big leaf or a little stem, they all blend together and I get into the flow.”
Growing up the third of nine children, Kopper said “I entertained myself through art” and spent lots of time outdoors drawing natural subjects.
Since earning a BFA in painting from Massachusetts College of Art, Kopper has worked as a graphic artist while focusing on botanical art since 2000.
Each drawing, Kopper said, expresses her belief “how all life is special no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. “
“Even a dried, bent plant at the end of day has a strength, beauty and elegance worth noting,” she said.
Langhammer is showing 21 intriguing ceramic “ovoids and ovules,” seed-shaped objects 6 to 12 inches tall that resemble life forms from crusted coral to scaly pinecones and spiky sea anemones.
Describing her work as “organic abstraction,” the Vineyard Haven artist said ovoids and ovules “contain all the information of becoming,” including “possibility, potential and promise.”
“All my art is inspired by nature but isn’t a copy,” said Langhammer. “I begin with an idea and then throw it (on the potter’s wheel.)”
Langhammer painted and sculpted in high school and earned a degree in industrial design at California College of Art.
While the two painters paint real plants, Langhammer imagines the forces that animate the natural world and sculpts life’s DFA in fascinating ceramic shapes.
“Each piece is an exploration of a pattern,” she said. “Together, they are a catalog of forms, the blueprint of nature.”
Wilkas has painted the sensual beauty of wildflowers in 15 watercolors using techniques inspired by the meditative approach of the late Japanese artist and philosopher Kaji Aso.
A Hanover resident, she taught art in public schools for more than 30 years. While on sabbatical at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston, she immersed herself in Aso’s Zen meditation, learning “to paint watercolors in an automatic way by not forcing any particular idea, color, shape or form.”
Applying 20 to 30 applications of paint with a sable brush, Wilkas blended her soft colors in ways that convey the essence rather than the anatomy of wildflowers.
Her paintings of wild indigo or Nymphaea suggest the ephemeral beauty of wildflowers as a state-of-mind.
“Out of this experience I was amazed to see how each image changed from light to dark, pastel to cool and warm colors,” recalled Wilkas. “These images took on a life of their own.”
Wilkas might be describing the entire exhibit.
WHEN: Through Sept. 8
WHERE: The Gallery at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, 293 Moose Hill St., Sharon
GALLERY HOURS: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
TRAILS OPEN: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
INFO: 781-784-5691; www.massaudubon.org/moosehill