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Art of animals fills new exhibition at Randolph College

Nick Brandt, Elephant Walking Through Grass, Amboseli, 2008, archival pigment print, 40 in. x 73 in., edition of 8. ©Nick Brandt, Courtesy of the Artist and Hasted Kraeutler, NYC

Nick Brandt, Elephant Walking Through Grass, Amboseli, 2008, archival pigment print, 40 in. x 73 in., edition of 8. ©Nick Brandt, Courtesy of the Artist and Hasted Kraeutler, NYC

In her new exhibition at the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, Kathy Muehlemann hopes to recreate the experience she had on an African safari five years ago.

The Randolph art professor recently recalled the first morning of the safari, when her guide took her out on the Kalahari Desert in a Range Rover. They parked among a group of lions. The guide assured Muehlemann that they were safe as long as they did not distinguish themselves from the vehicle.

WhiteKite2

Jane Rosen, White Kite on Blue Lagoon, 2012, pigmented limestone, marble and kiln cast glass, 86 in. x 14 in. Courtesy of the artist and Sears-Peyton Gallery, NYC.

“We were able to sit around for half an hour with the eyes of these lions gazing on us and not seeing us as prey,” Muehlemann recalled. “Being in the bush and having an animal step out in front of you magnetizes it. I was struck by the effect that an animal has.”

That impact prompted Muehlemann to incorporate what she learned in her drawing and painting classes at Randolph. It also inspired A Menagerie of Metaphors, the College’s 103rd exhibition of contemporary art.

The exhibition includes giant photographs of elephants taken up close, colorful paintings of rabbits inspired by a dream about a waltzing hare, and etchings of birds mimicking the drawings of natural history illustrators. Artists with work represented in the exhibition include Jane Alexander, Louise Bourgeois, Nick Brandt, Walton Ford, Jenny Lynn McNutt, Jane Rosen, and Kiki Smith.

Muehlemann sought art that would help people think differently about the animals. “I was interested not in the illustrations of the animals, but in artists who look at the animal as a being, she said. “It’s not a perfect rendition, but it captures this sense of the animal.”

She compared the art to portraits that capture personality as much as physicality. They become visual metaphors, she said. “With a metaphor, you get something so rich that you can start to develop your own storyline,” Muehlemann said.

An opening reception for the exhibition will be held Friday, September 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibition will be on view at the Maier until December 14.



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