An exhibition titled “Nature, Us and the Future — A Group Exhibition with Female Perspectives” of over 60 artworks by six artists — Christen Yates, Judith Ely, Karen Rosasco, Lesli Devito, Phyllis Koch-Sheras and Susan Patrick — is currently on display at the Guild Gallery until April 15 for the public to view. The pieces range from abstract pieces to realistic paintings to interactive activities, but all come together to express the artists’ common love for nature, in whatever form it may be.
A diverse range of people — from University students to senior Charlottesville residents — walked into the Guild Gallery to experience the opening of the exhibit Feb. 5. The exhibit is divided into three chapters — the first section, “Nature,” simply depicts natural scenery. Featured artworks include a forest drawn by Christen Yates, an animal painted by Lesli Devito and flowers in a pond done by Karen Rosasco.
The second chapter is labeled “Us,” and reflects the artists’ thoughts on the relationship between mankind and nature. Judith Ely’s pieces – such as Landscape with a View, Myriads of Color and Looking Upward – reflect this theme well through her abstract and distinct style demonstrating various feelings such as turmoil, spectacle and joy.
This chapter even includes an interactive workshop activity prepared by Ely, where those at the opening created their own abstract art using glue, paint and colored paper to express their interpretation of society’s relationship with nature.
“Artwork is what you love seeing,” Ely said. “Things that are inspiring and stimulating — we find comfort in those things. Nature is that presence for me.”
To better understand the craft and artistry behind them, a roundtable discussion with the artists to explain their inspirations, their creative process and the meaning behind their features in the exhibition was held at the opening ceremony.
“The feelings I have had living in this beautiful space – all the shapes and colors – those are the things I love to express in my art,” Kock-Sheras said at the discussion.
The third chapter is titled “The Future,” which addresses the question of what is next for the relationship introduced in “Us.” This chapter focuses heavily on the impact of nature on society and vice versa — specifically in relation to COVID-19, climate change and pollution.
Conversing with the artists and the exhibition attendees, a frequent sentiment seemed to be that these natural crises sparked concern for the future and a desire to reconnect with the world. Being quarantined and isolated during the pandemic inspired the artists to spend time they would usually spend with others with nature instead, allowing them to notice the long-overlooked details and beauty nature has to provide.
The impending issues of climate change and pollution prompted the artists to research and advocate for change through their art. “Nature, Us, and The Future” allowed the art appreciators to pause and reflect on the beauty of the world, its current situation and prospects for the future in relation to nature.
The artists make clear these themes of nature and its relation to humanity in the subjects of their artwork, which ranges from landscapes to animals and came in all sizes and mediums.
With the meaning of the art in mind, it is clear that the exhibition not only provides aesthetic artwork and the chance to meet other art appreciators, but also a deeply personal and powerful message about nature, its relationship with humanity and the importance of its care in the future in light of destructive effects of civilization on the environment.
The event and exhibit was made possible by the six artists who provided their stunning art to be on display, as well as James Barton and Patti Pan who organized the exhibition and its opening. “Nature, Us, and the Future — A Group Exhibition with Female Perspectives” will be on public view until April 15th at the Guild Gallery for all those with a passion for art and nature to enjoy.