The Whatcom Museum has been awarded a $60,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in support of the upcoming exhibition, “Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity,” which will be on exhibit September 8, 2018 – January 6, 2019, in the Lightcatcher building. The grant will assist the Museum in funding the loan of artworks from around the world, educational programming, and an exhibition catalog. “Endangered Species” will explore artwork created by 50 artists who interpret the fragile balance of life on Earth through a wide range of media.
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects across the country in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for the fiscal year 2017—a significant win for the arts during a time when NEA funding was at risk of federal budget cuts this year. (The NEA is proposed for elimination under the president’s 2018 budget.) Included in this announcement is the Art Works award of $60,000 to the Whatcom Museum, which was the highest amount given to a museum exhibition.
“The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as the Whatcom Museum, in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible arts experiences.”
As the only funder in the country to support arts activities in all 50 states and five US jurisdictions, this NEA funding round includes partnerships with state, jurisdictional, and regional arts agencies. Competition for NEA grants is significant, and the agency received 2,063 eligible applications. The value of NEA funding is not only its monetary impact, but also its reputation, as an NEA grant confers a seal of approval, allowing an organization to attract other public and private funds. The Art Works award is the NEA’s largest category and focuses on funding the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with art, lifelong learning in the arts, and strengthening of communities through the arts. The NEA received 1,728 Art Works applications and made 1,029 grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.
“The Whatcom Museum upholds the highest of best practices in the museology field, as an American Alliance of Museums accredited museum, and we are proud to receive this important funding in support of a topic that will highly resonate with our audiences in the Pacific Northwest,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “‘Endangered Species’ will allow people of all ages to better understand the history and ongoing struggle for survival of plant and animal life through the works of these amazing artists, and hopefully make a lasting impression of what we can do to help make a better future for our environment.”
“Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity” presents 70 works of art in all media, from rare books to cutting-edge video, that span the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries. It highlights artists who celebrate biodiversity’s exquisite complexity, interpret natural and human-induced extinctions of plants and animals, and focus on endangered species from diverse ecosystems. The exhibition explores art’s historic role in raising public awareness about the human activities that threaten habitats. Weaving together art, natural science, and conservation, “Endangered Species” also features creative solutions by ecological artists who revitalize habitats and reconnect people to the rich tapestry of life. Featured artists include John James Audubon, Brandon Ballengée, Nick Brandt, Edward Burtynsky, George Catlin, Mark Dion, Madeline von Foerster, Nicholas Galanin, Ernst Haeckel, Patricia Johanson, Isabella Kirkland, David Liitschwager, Courtney Mattison, Alexis Rockman, Joel Sartore, Fred Tomaselli, and Andy Warhol, among many others.
“We often read news headlines with alarming statistics—60% of the world’s primates, including apes, lemurs and monkeys, face extinction—and then turn the page,” said Barbara Matilsky, exhibition curator, and Curator of Art at the Whatcom Museum. “Artists take this information and create imagery that inspires emotional and thought-provoking responses. They also collaborate with natural scientists and communities on ecological artworks that serve as models for revitalizing land and water-based biodiversity in urban and rural areas. Hopefully, ‘Endangered Species’ will stimulate visitors to join with artists, scientists, and conservationists in preserving life’s biodiversity.”
“Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity” is supported by a major grant from The Norcliffe Foundation, with additional funding from the Whatcom Museum Foundation and the City of Bellingham.
The exhibition will open September 8, 2018 and will be shown through January 6, 2019 in the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street, Bellingham, WA.