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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Past Exhibitions

Worlds Within

22 September – 15 December 2017

Worlds Within was a unique collaboration between the Hunt Institute (22 September–15 December 2017) and the Miller Gallery (23 September–12 November 2017). The two venues, at either end of the Carnegie Mellon University campus, exhibited botanical micrographs by British artist Rob Kesseler (1951–) alongside botanical wall charts from Carl Ignaz Leopold Kny's (1841–1916) series Botanische Wandtafeln (Berlin, Paul Parey, 1874–1911). Complementing the forms represented in these charts and micrographs was a selection of models of marine organisms made of glass by Leopold Blaschka (1822–1895) and Rudolf Blaschka (1857–1939) and made of glacite by Edwin H. Reiber (1881–1967), loaned by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Worlds Within exposed the generally unseen world of plants and their internal architecture, textures, patterns and functions. It revealed repeating patterns in nature: generic structures and forms, which recur on a macro and micro scale. The graphic impact of historical instructive botanical wall charts and models alongside monumentalized, hand-colored botanical micrographs by Rob Kesseler created a remarkable visual bridge between the conventional purpose of scientific illustration as used in educational materials and the aesthetic interpretation of scientific imagery in contemporary art.

The work at the Hunt Institute offered a more comprehensive comparison between the micrographs and the historical charts and models while the Miller Gallery exhibition featured a fuller range of Kesseler's recent artwork. Both sections of this joint exhibition celebrate the extraordinary aesthetic interrelationships between historically different methods of visually interpreting the wonders of botanical phenomena, which are not readily visible to the naked eye. Viewers were encouraged to visit both venues to experience these stunning visual juxtapositions in which the many complexities of representing plants were concentrated into mesmeric visual images and objects.

This collaborative exhibition would not have been possible without the support of Carnegie Mellon University and its School of Art, College of Fine Arts, and Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry; the Carnegie Museum of Natural History; and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Opening receptions

The opening receptions on Friday, 22 September were open to the public (5:00–7:00 p.m. at the Institute; 6:00–8:00 p.m. at the Miller Gallery). Rob Kesseler attended both receptions (5:00–6:00 p.m. at the Institute; 6:15–8:00 p.m. at the Miller Gallery).

Panel discussion

A panel discussion, "The artist in the lab, the scientist in the studio," was held on Thursday, 28 September, 5:00–6:30 p.m. at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, College of Fine Arts, Room CFA-111, Carnegie Mellon University. Rob Kesseler, Worlds Within artist, and Steve Tonsor, Director of Science and Research, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and moderator Edith Doron, Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow, Senior Manager of Carnegie Nexus, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, discussed the evolution of relationships between artists and scientists into research partnerships and considered potential avenues for the intersections of these two disciplines in the future. This event was free and open to the public.

About the Miller Gallery

The Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University supports the creation, understanding and growth of contemporary art through exhibitions, projects, lectures, events and publications. The gallery aspires to engage diverse audiences and to create and strengthen communities through art and ideas. The Miller Gallery is the contemporary art gallery of Carnegie Mellon University and is a unit of the College of Fine Arts. It is located in the Purnell Center for the Arts on Carnegie Mellon's campus in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Miller Gallery is open to the public from noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, visit their Web site.

Selected Artworks

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