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Hungerford Gallery: Beverly Ress

Illustration of green birds on a salmon-colored background

"Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" by Beverly Ress
February 10 - March 19, 2020, La Plata Campus, Fine Arts Center, Tony Hungerford Memorial Art Gallery

I have been drawing representationally for many years, using found objects, working with colored pencils on Arches paper. I am interested in the observation required for representational drawing: we live in the physical world, and the structures it contains are extraordinary. Drawing is a way to pay attention. 

Once I have drawn something as perfectly representationally as I can, I like letting it go – taking a chance on ruining it, by cutting it using forms found in math and physics, or letting mold grow on it, or letting beetles chew into it, or dropping pools of watercolor onto the surface to see how they physically separate as they dry. That process of ‘letting go’ is tied to the idea of memento mori – ‘remember death’ – and so is important to the work, conceptually.

For 2 summers, I was an informal artist-in-residence in the Birdskin Collection at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, drawing some of the objects in their collection. I became aware of the significant number of science-based specimen collections in the DC area and beyond. They have since become a focus of my drawing.

I have spent, and continue to spend, quite a bit of time drawing specimens at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring. I’ve also spent a few weeks drawing at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, as a Wood Institute Travel Grant recipient.

I love the challenge of drawing representationally – it feels like a puzzle to visually take apart, and then re-create an object. I am also interested in working with the space within the picture plane as a positive, rather than an emptiness, honoring the physical space in which we reside.

10/9/2015 07:00 PM