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The Reedy Gallery at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

EMILY DONOVAN

Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists Emily Donovan and Kim Russell April 20 – June 14, 2021

Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists — 1


Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists Birds provide inspiration for Kim Russell and Emily Donovan, the two contemporary artists featured in this exhibition. While inspired by ancient legacies in art, each uses wildly different techniques. Russell is influenced by indigenous imagery resulting in meticulous, highly stylized ink and acrylic drawings. Donovan’s natural hand-dyed paper is created through an exacting process shared by cultures around the world. Throughout her processes, from foraging for raw materials to finished works of art, Donovan maintains a close connection to the land and sky. Both artists ensure the essence of their subjects remain in their finished work, rooted in a shared desire to provide a new perspective of our feathered friends.

COVER ART: Trio Kim Russell INSIDE COVER ART: Canadian Goose Emily Donovan


Emily Donovan Artist Statement My paintings exhibit nature’s own unique color properties. These include tonal variations in seasonal cycles of plant growth and the multi-colored wild birds I find as I study and observe the outdoors. Naturally made colors are distinctive and the process of creating them is fascinating to me. My interest was generated and grows as I spend time outdoors locally and in large expanses of wilderness while hiking and camping. Out of this interest and curiosity, I began creating my own colors from locally foraged plant materials as well as international sources which I find full of history and tradition. In my paintings I try to capture the richness of my outdoor experiences, connections I find in nature while utilizing art materials which are environmentally safe and healthy. My process includes dying paper by hand as well as drawing and painting with wax. The process of creating natural color is akin to cooking. There are certain ingredients to find and measure then chemistry makes it all ‘work’ to create color that is successful for each artwork and lightfast. I submerge the paper into dye baths to allow the pigments to bond with it. Colors emerge in interesting patterns and lines, which guide my paintings. Often, I allow nature to do what it wants to do, without trying to control it - there is a bit of alchemy or magic and wonder along with a little ritual that accompanies this process. Whether I grow the plant, foraging for wild materials or find another source, each plant is specifically chosen for its hues and story. It’s a slow art. If you consider the time from growth, to gathering, processing and ultimately using the found materials in my studio each step is intentional. This long process brings a sense of joy and excitement to the end results. When working with mother nature you also need to understand that there are time limitations in the use of natural materials. For my art work this provides a sense of immediacy and excitement. I know that

eventually the natural materials will expire. If I don’t capture my artistic vision at that time, I may have to wait until the next growing season to harvest a particular color again. This forces me to pay attention to nature’s cycle. Birds have been introduced to my work as subject matter because their presence is also part of my outdoor experiences. Their arrivals and departures mirror the seasonal change similarly to the seasonal changes in plant growth and development. There exists a long tradition of birds in art and in my work I try to convey characteristics that I find interesting and beautiful, rather than creating realistic depictions. I like to investigate and paint feather patterns, unique shapes in body structure, movements and moments as I observe the birds in the natural world. As I search for new birds, they bring me to new locations including urban green spaces, sanctuaries and wild places - ecosystems throughout Minnesota. Each destination provides a new perspective guiding me to even more beautiful natural colors in plant growth and more bird species to observe. It’s happily never ending! My research on various species of birds, their movement within Minnesota, and their resiliency or decline, provides me with new ideas and thoughts regarding the larger ecosystem and the health of our environment. As my repertoire of natural colors grows, I hope to create additional meaning and understanding of the environment. Color, materials, experiences and memories remind me of how special and amazing our world is.


Kim Russell Artist Statement My art career started in 1978, creating sculptural pieces in native hardwoods. After working exclusively in wood for over 30 years, I followed my heart and began creating stylized ink and acrylic drawings of birds. My approach to creating the drawings is the same as my approach to designing wood sculptures. Regardless of the medium, the emphasis is on the flow of the lines, the symmetry between components, and the balance of the composition. I choose to depict birds because they are one form of wildlife that virtually everyone can experience, no matter where they live— robins hunting worms in lawns, crows calling overhead, hawks nesting on high-rise window ledges. I love hearing personal stories of the ways birds have touched peopleʼs lives. Even though my images may be exaggerated, my goal is always to capture the essence of each bird. Each drawing begins with research. I only put pencil to paper once I know my subject like a friend. When my depictions depart from reality, I want to feel confident that it is through artistic choice, not ignorance. Researching the birds, their habits and habitats also brings me closer to finding my own place in the larger world. While learning about and observing birds, itʼs unavoidable to become aware of the interconnectedness of all the elements inhabiting the earth, both wild and civilized. As my fascination with birdsʼ natural history continues to grow, I am led to a lifetime commitment of learning about and sharing enthusiasm for the avian world.

Stylistically, I’m inspired by the imagery depicted by ancient, indigenous cultures. My main influence is stone carvings by the Picts—preCeltic tribes that lived in northern Scotland, the homeland of my ancestors. The simplicity and connection with nature that characterizes ancient images is reflected in my work. The stark white backgrounds in my drawings intentionally impart an iconic feel. I have created sculptural work for installations in national wildlife refuges, libraries, schools, and hospitals, including a recent installation of 34 life-sized flying bird sculptures for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. I particularly enjoy the close relationships I have with botanical gardens, national wildlife refuges, and sanctuaries that sell my reproductions through their on-site and online gift shops. A wide selection of my notecard designs is carried by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.


Blue Birds Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 48 x 10 $425

ALL DIMENSIONS ARE IN INCHES

EMILY DONOVAN

Canadian Goose Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 18 x 24 $950

6 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619


Cedar Waxwings – Como Lake Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 20 x 48 $1,600

EMILY DONOVAN

Conifer Shelter – Dark Eyed Junco Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 37 x 41 $3,400

Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists — 7


Cooper’s Hawk – My Backyard Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 42 x 20 • $1,750

EMILY DONOVAN

Crows vs. Hawks (Diptych) Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 20 x 44 $850

8 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619


Double Creasted Cormorants Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 20 x 42 $1,800

EMILY DONOVAN

Feather Remnants Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 30 x 40 $2,500

Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists — 9


Feathers Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 6 x 24 $225

EMILY DONOVAN

Great Egret Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 30 x 60 $3,200

10 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619


Kestrel Flight (Diptych) Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 16 x 48 $1,800

EMILY DONOVAN

Lazy Circles – Hawk’s Ridge Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 12 x 41.5 $750

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Loons at Night Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 37 x 41 $3,500

EMILY DONOVAN

Mourning Dove Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 20 x 24 $750

12 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619


Red Bellied Woodpeckers Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 24 x 40 $1,200

EMILY DONOVAN

Red Winged Blackbird Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 24 x 40 $1,200

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Sandhill Cranes Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 60 x 30 • $3,000

EMILY DONOVAN

Stained Glass Cardinals Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 24 x 40 $1,200

14 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619


Swans – Feathers – Bookshelf Collage with Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 10 x 60 $950

EMILY DONOVAN

Trumpeter Swan Natural Dye and Pigment on Paper 20 x 42 $1,700

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A Cacophony of Cranes Ink and Acrylic 60 x 20 $2,100

KIM RUSSELL

At Your Service Ink and Acrylic 18 x 24 $750

16 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619


Barn Owl Two Ink and Acrylic 12 x 14 $450

KIM RUSSELL

Beneath the Water Lilies Ink and Acrylic 60 x 20 $2,200

Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists — 17


Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along Ink and Acrylic 24 x 18 • $650

KIM RUSSELL

By the Light of the Moon Ink and Acrylic 22 x 28 $1,650

18 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619


Cedar Seclusion Ink and Acrylic 12 x 14 $425

KIM RUSSELL

Family Affair Ink and Acrylic 60 x 20 $2,800

Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists — 19


Family Ties Ink and Acrylic 22 x 28 • $750

KIM RUSSELL

Harvest Time Ink and Acrylic 14 x 12 $325

20 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619


Harvesters Ink and Acrylic 22 x 28 $980

KIM RUSSELL

Mister Snaz Ink and Acrylic 22 x 28 $980

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Mob Scene II Ink and Acrylic 60 x 20 • $2,100

KIM RUSSELL

Moustachioed Mama Ink and Acrylic 14 x 12 $300

22 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619


Pileated Punk Ink and Acrylic 14 x 11 $275

KIM RUSSELL

Trinity Rising Ink and Acrylic 22 x 28 $1,200

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Trio Ink and Acrylic 22 x 28 $980

KIM RUSSELL

Vervain Domain Ink and Acrylic 18 x 24 $950

24 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619


What’s Next Ink and Acrylic 16 x 12 $300

KIM RUSSELL

Whooper on the Wing Ink and Acrylic 22 x 28 $980

Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists — 25


KIM RUSSELL — LIVE INTERACTIVE TALK

Seeing Birds through the Eyes of an Artist Saturday, May 8 • 10 – 11 a.m. In celebration of World Migratory Bird Day join artist Kim Russell in this fun engaging discussion. • Join Reedy Gallery exhibiting Artist Kim Russell as she shares a wealth of fascinating facts about the birds she represents in her stylized drawings of native Midwestern species. • Register for this live Zoom format which combines the artists’ inspiration with her endless fascination of birds. • Learn a wide variety of less well known aspects of birds biology using her original artwork as a backdrop. • This session is moderated by Wendy DePaolis Curator of Art and Sculpture, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Register in advance for this webinar:

https://umn.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4poCZtHPRvqkMR2xSvT_VQ After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

26 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619


EMILY DONOVAN — LIVE ONLINE DEMONSTRATION

Perspectives of an Artist-Birder: Finding Color, Meaning & Connection Saturday, June 12 • 10 – 11 a.m. Don’t miss this Reedy Gallery featured artist currently showing in “Birds of a Feather” as she demonstrates her art process using natural dye and pigment in her backyard studio. • Watch Emily make color from local and native plant materials. • Learn new ways of seeing flora and fauna through the artist’s eyes. • Discover through observation of seasonal change the symbiotic relationship between plants and birds. • See how it all comes together in her wholly original multimedia paintings. • Register for this live Zoom format. • This session is moderated by Wendy DePaolis Curator of Art and Sculpture, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Register in advance for this webinar:

https://umn.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ipwfaAiITzCT4hm7kTsTFg After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists — 27


EMILY DONOVAN

REEDY GALLERY HOURS: Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through April; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily starting May 1. All Arboretum members and visitors must make a reservation in advance of their visit: Arb.umn.edu Reservations are free for members, $15 for non-members and free for children ages 15 and younger. Masks are required indoors.

3675 Arboretum Drive • Chaska, MN 55318 612-624-2200 • arboretum.umn.edu

28 — INQUIRIES: Arboretum Gift and Garden Store, 612-301-7619

Profile for Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The Reedy Gallery at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum- Birds of a Feather  

Artist catalog Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists

The Reedy Gallery at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum- Birds of a Feather  

Artist catalog Birds of a Feather: Contemporary Avian Artists

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