America’s Parks Through the Beauty of Art!

Just wanted to pass on this opportunity to anyone who’s interested in submitting their work or attending the exhibition in 2013. ArtPlantae Today wrote about it yesterday in a post entitled Exhibition Celebrates America’s Parks:

“America’s Parks Through the Beauty of Art celebrates the original artwork of artists who have captured scenes and images depicting parks in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Subject matter may be from any park be it a national, state, provincial, county or a city park.

Jurors are M. Stephen Doherty, editor of PleinAir Magazine; Susan T. Fisher, past president of the American Society of Botanical Artists & director of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Art Institute; and Todd Wilkinson, managing editor ofWildlife Art Journal.

The inaugural exhibition of America’s Parks Through the Beauty of Art will be held in Bolivar, Missouri at the Ella Carothers Dunnegan Gallery of Art,March 17 – April 14, 2013. Additional exhibitions are planned for 2014 and 2015.

Complete details can be viewed in the prospectus for the inaugural exhibition. Here is quick look at some important information:

  • Eligibility: Open to all artists

  • Eligible Subject Matter: Original artwork of subject matter found in any national, state, provincial, county or city park or any park of any other such unit in Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

  • Eligible Media: Original, two-dimensional art completed in 2010, 2011 or 2012. See prospectus for more details, including ineligible media.

  • Entry Fees: Early-entry Fee is US$30 for one entry, US$50 for two entries and US$20 for each additional entry. Standard Deadline Fee is US$40 for one entry, each additional entry US$25.

Download the “America’s Parks” Prospectus for the 2013 Inaugural Exhibition to read all details and to obtain an entry form.”

Endangered Species Condoms

Yes. Endangered Species Condoms. Seriously. That’s creative.

Lest you think this is a joke (as I did at first), you can visit the Center for Biological Diversity’s 7-Billion and Counting site and their newsletter Pop X. The world’s population is slated to hit the 7-billion mark this October. The Center for Biological Diversity‘s Endangered Species Condom initiative is their attempt at creatively (and, hey, practically) – dare I say – driving home the connection between overpopulation and environmental destruction.

“Overpopulation and overconsumption are the root causes of environmental destruction. They’re driving species extinct, destroying wildlife habitat, and undermining the basic needs of all life at an unprecedented rate.” -Center for Biological Diversity

The CBD is relying on volunteers to distribute the condoms at public events across the US. You can even sign up to help them reach their goal of distributing 100,000 free condoms in 2011, which is a bit shy of their 2010 quota of 350,000. Maybe this map will help you decide whether or not your geographic area is in need of more free Endangered Species Condoms. Just look at that distribution!

The images used on these clever condom wrappers were donated by the Endangered Species Print Project (ESPP). Since I study endangered species, this project hits pretty close to home. I love it! The ESPP creates art prints of critically endangered species in series that are limited by the number of animals (or plants) remaining in the wild. For example, there are less than 100 Panamanian Golden Frogs left in the wild, so ESPP founder Jenny Kendler’s print of the creature is limited to 100 prints. This project  grew out of a fondness for nature and animals shared by ESPP founders Jenny Kendler and Molly Schafer:

” [they] met during their graduate studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where they bonded over nature-geekery, including a studious interest in animals, wild places and natural pre-history. Since 2005, Kendler and Schafer have been collaborating on projects relating to art and the environment.”

To learn more about ESPP, they have a great blog and a Facebook page that features many of the ESPP’s biocreative endeavors. All of the prints are available for about $50, and the proceeds go directly to organizations that benefit each endangered species. Now if only we can do a print for the critically endangered Barton Springs Salamander!? *Hint, hint Jenny & Molly!* I just happen to have a watercolor print and access to a rhyming dictionary!

The endangered Barton Springs Salamander. Less than 200 remain in the wild. Artist: Victoria Harrell of Conroe, Texas.

science on the radio

Just a little heads-up that I’ll be chatting about the biocreativity blog on one of my favorite radio shows They Blinded me with Science tomorrow, Monday, October 3rd from 8:30-9:00pm on 91.7FM KVRX in Austin, Texas.

They Blinded Me With Science is a killer student radio show at the University of Texas that features all kinds of cool science. If you’ve never tuned in, why not start now? It’s on every Monday from 8:30-9:00pm and you can listen even if you don’t live in Austin by visiting! You can also follow TBMWS on Facebook and @blindbyscience on Twitter.

snake week art!

In anticipation of the Center for Snake Conservation’s First Annual Fall Snake Count (Sept 17-23, 2011), I’ve decided to compile some of my favorite artistic representations of these critters for your enjoyment. Backyard bird counts are fairly common, but this is your chance to enjoy some time outside and help conserve our native serpents!

“The 1st Annual Fall Snake Count will be held from September 17 – 23, 2011 during Snake Week.  Snake Week is a bi-annual seven-day event that engages snake enthusiasts of all ages to promote snake conservation.  One way you can participate is to join the Snake Count by counting snakes to help create a real-time snapshot of how snakes are doing across the United States.” -Center for Snake Conservation

For you photographers out there, participating in the snake count also makes you eligible to enter the CSC First Annual Fall Snake Week Photo Contest!

Now….on to the art! Snakes have been an object of both fascination and fear for humans for millenia. Great Serpent Mound in Ohio – the largest animal effigy in the world – depicts a snake and is though to have been built by the Fort Ancient culture of prehistoric native Americans around 1000 AD.

Great Serpent Mound, Ohio

I shared this image with you a few months ago on a post about the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Connections exhibit series. It is a truly beautiful representation of a snake from Skink and Snake (Tokage and Hebi) by Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro, from Picture Book of Selected Insects with Crazy Poems (Ehon Mushi Erabi)

Skink and Snake by Kitagawa Utamaro, 1788. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Here is a colorful 1295–1213 B.C. tempera on paper painting from the Egyptian Tomb of Sennedjem, depicting a very dexterous Cat Killing a Serpent. It’s amazing that this paper piece has survived the ages with these brilliant colors in tact.

Cat Killing a Serpent. Tomb of Sennedjem. Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This gold bracelet, from quite a bit later in Egyptian history, depicts a coiled cobra. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “after Egypt came under the rule of the Hellenistic Greeks (323–27 B.C.) and later became a province of the Roman Empire (after 27 B.C.), the snake became a fashionable jewelry motif, well- suited for coiling around the neck and wrist.” These are still fashionable today, and you can even buy a reproduction in the Met’s store.

Gold Snake Bracelet. Roman empire, Egypt. Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Snakes have been used as symbols of renewal and rebirth (as they shed their skin), the cyclical nature of life (depicted as a snake coiled and biting its own tail) and are invoked in a number of creation myths. I’m sure you all recognize the pesky individual in Fernado Botero’s 1998 painting Adam and Eve.

Fernando Botero's Adam and Eve

Animals, including snakes, also feature prominently in sculptures and pottery of many central American cultures. The sculpture below is an Aztec representation of a coiled snake, created in the 15th or 16th century AD.

Coiled Serpent. Aztec. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Early American explorers and naturalists rendered exquisite representations of the herpetofauna, including these prints that were included in G.M. Wheeler’s 1875 Report Upon United States Geographical Surveys West of the 100th Meridian.

Kingsnakes by G.M. Wheeler (1875

Crotalus pyrrhus. Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake by G.M. Wheeler (1875)

This modern sculpture by stonecarver William E. Nutt captures the fluidity of the snake’s movement. To create this sculpture, surely Nutt must have done some snake watching of his own. “Once I have selected an animal,” says Nutt, “I will extensively study it. Optimally this includes study in the wild, but due to the uncooperative nature of such beasts and the difficulty of travel, I make extensive use of books and photographs. I have to learn the essence of the animal along with the anatomy necessary to bring out the true nature of the animal.”

Black Snake. 2002. William E. Nutt. Available from

Perhaps the perfect image to celebrate the Center for Snake Conservation’s First Annual Snake Week is American photographer Lee Seivan’s 1940’s photograph Children Watching Snake Held By Teacher. This captivating photograph reveals the beguiling nature of these slithering creatures that truly makes snakes remarkable members of the animal kingdom. Whether you like them or hate them, snakes will always get your attention.

Children Watching Snake Held by Teacher. 1940's by photographer Lee Seivan. Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

If any of these images have stoked your curiosity and fascination, it’s not too late to sign up for the snake count – just visit the Center for Snake Conservation’s website.

2011 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest

2011 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Entry from

You can now see a preview of the 2011 art submissions for the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest at The winning submission will be printed on the 2012-2013 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp. According to the US Fish & Wildlife Service,

The $15 Federal Duck Stamp is a vital tool for wetland conservation, with 98 cents of every dollar generated going to purchase or lease wetland habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since the stamp’s inception, sales have helped to acquire nearly six million acres of wildlife habitat at hundreds of refuges in nearly every state.

2011 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Entry available from

There’s even a Junior duck stamp contest – and the entries are amazing! This program seems to exhibit the very essence of biocreativity and is wonderful science-art project.

The Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program is a dynamic, art and science program designed to teach wetlands habitat and waterfowl conservation to students in kindergarten through high school and help reconnect youth with the outdoors. The program guides students, using scientific and wildlife observation principles, to communicate visually what they have learned through an entry into the Junior Duck Stamp art contest. This non-traditional pairing of subjects brings new interest to both the sciences and the arts. It crosses cultural, ethnic, social, and geographic boundaries to teach greater awareness of our nation’s natural resources.

This year’s winner was 17-year-old Abraham Hunter from Vienna, Illinois. Check out the finalists from each state here.

Winner of the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest 2011 by 17-year-old Abraham Hunter of Vienna, Illinois.