Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Weird, Wild, & Wonderful: The NYBG Triennial Explores Another World of Botanical Art

Posted in Programs and Events on April 8 2014, by Lansing Moore

Polystichum sp. Julia Trickey
Polystichum sp. Julia Trickey

Plants aren’t all pink petals and dainty blossoms. Nature has a strange side, and botanical artists with a sense of adventure can find all sorts of singular subjects among the world’s… well, weirder specimens.

That is the inspiration behind the second New York Botanical Garden triennial exhibition, Weird, Wild, & Wonderful, a juried show co-presented with the American Society of Botanical Artists. In homage to the beauty of the botanical world’s most bizarre flora, the Garden invited members of the society to participate in a study of the eccentric, creating works of art based on visually unusual plants chosen by the artists themselves.

The exhibit will debut in the Ross Gallery on Saturday, April 19. The show includes 46 captivating paintings and illustrations of exotic specimens, in media such as watercolor, oil, colored pencil, tempera, graphite, gouache, acrylic, aquatint etching, and pen and ink. Nearly 240 entries were submitted, and the exhibition features artists from the United States, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The selection jury consisted of Lugene Bruno, Curator of Art at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation; Jean Emmons, award-winning botanical artist; and Marc Hachadourian, Manager of the Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections at The New York Botanical Garden.

heirloom tomato Solanum lycopersicum Watercolor on paper Asuka Hishiki
heirloom tomato, (Solanum lycopersicum), Watercolor on paper Asuka Hishiki

Weird, Wild, & Wonderful features plants not always thought of as beautiful but rather eccentric, intriguing, and mysterious. Some of the artworks depict common plants presented in a dramatic new way, such as the “heirloom tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)” or “shield fern (Polystichum sp.)”. Others have more exotic names that you may not have heard, such as the dramatic “Capparidastrum sola and the, um,Dog turd fungus with pill bug (Pisolithus tinctorius & Armadillidium vulgare)”—if the names are any indication, you can expect to see plants as you have never seen them before.

Capparidastrum sola Ann Hoffenberg
Capparidastrum sola Ann S. Hoffenberg

You can get more information about the triennial exhibition here. If the artwork on display inspires you to portray a weird, wild, and wonderful plant of your own, NYBG Adult Education offers a wide array of Workshops and Certificate classes in Botanical Art & Illustration for all experience levels.