Art show highlights environmental issues

By Brock Seamen

The Whatcom Art Museum is currently holding the “Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity” art show.

The exhibit features sculptures of wolves and dodo birds, paintings, photography, and such from the 1700 and 1800s through today. A diverse array of species is represented in an equally diverse array of art styles.

Barbara Matilsky, curator of art, said the exhibit, five years in the making, is her passion project.

David Miller, a local artist who also works preparing pieces for exhibit, said about Matilsky’s efforts that, “She moved ahead with the research not knowing if she could fund it, and along the way she got an NEA grant and many contributions.”

David MillerLocal artist David Miller shows two of his paintings featured in the exhibition.

The point of the exhibit, Miller said, is to “raise some alarms, but to inspire a little bit of hope.”

The exhibit also includes a painting from Miller of a pterosaur called Quetzalcoatlus, 2002, that was featured in a book.

The docent who led a recent tour of the exhibit described two paintings by Madeline von Foerster. The first painting was of plants from South Carolina.

“Her hands are holding this carnivorous plant but she’s saying, hold on, let’s keep everything alive. Let’s enjoy these plants that are endangered and let’s not let that pass through our hands,” said the docent.

Von Foerster, who attended the opening night of the show, confirmed the hands in the painting were hers.

The next painting by von Foerster shows a frog called “Ecnomiohyla rabborum” that is nearly extinct. According to the docent, “This poor frog, who died in Atlanta in a cage, was the last one that was ever known.”

Another work of art, a recreation of a dodo bird by Harri Kallio, is one part of his piece, the second part is photos of the birds in the wild.

“He [Kallio] went to an island off of Madagascar. He planted his sculptures where they used to live and photographed them,” the docent said.

The exhibit continues through Jan. 6 at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building at 250 Flora St. open Wednesday through Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

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