FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 26, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT:
Christina Claassen, Marketing & PR Manager
Whatcom Museum
cmclaassen@cob.org
(360) 778-8936
https://www.whatcommuseum.org

Contemporary Wildlife Art Exhibition “Un/Natural Selections” Travels to the Whatcom Museum this Fall

This fall, the Whatcom Museum is excited to present Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art, a powerhouse exhibition of works by 42 contemporary artists, organized by the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, and comprised exclusively from their permanent collection. Un/Natural Selections delves into the various ways that today’s artists employ animal imagery to address humanity’s interconnectedness and ever-changing relationship with the natural world. The exhibition’s showing at the Whatcom Museum is made possible through generous support from the Art Bridges foundation and will be on display Sept. 10, 2022 through Jan. 8, 2023 in the Lightcatcher building.

Receiving its designation as the National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States by Congress in 2008, the striking stone structure of the NMWA is built into the hillside in Jackson and overlooks the National Elk Refuge. Just two miles away is the gateway to Grand Teton National Park.

With similar close proximities to national parks and forests, and easy access to the natural beauty of our county, the Whatcom Museum was motivated to host this phenomenal exhibition that will surely resonate with nature-loving audiences here in Bellingham,” says Curator of Art Amy Chaloupka.

Though most of NMWA’s collection is centered around the work of American and European artists from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who feature wildlife in their works, Un/Natural Selections highlights recently acquired contemporary artworks created in the last 20 years. Through both media and content these contemporary artists are challenging, whether consciously or not, the definition of what constitutes wildlife art today.

Since the early 1900s wildlife art as a genre has been grouped together with art of the American West. Based in nostalgia and presented as an idealized version of American history, the wild animals commonly depicted during this time included bison, elk, moose and grizzly bears within wide expanses of natural habitats.

Through the exhibition’s four thematic sections—Politics, Science, Tradition and Aesthetics—the artists explore creative ways to negotiate the new terrain of our current Anthropocene epoch, an era defined by human influence on the environment. The artworks present ideas on human impact on and relationships with wildlife in an ever-changing world.

In connection with the themes in Un/Natural Selections, the Museum will host a multidisciplinary outreach program for college students titled “Passport to the Natural World.” Partnering with three local college campuses—Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College and Northwest Indian College—the “Passport” programs aim to increase access to art and nature while providing opportunities for mindfulness and relaxation. Activities such as animal-pose yoga, artist workshops, movie screenings, book discussions and geocaching seek to connect students to the broader Bellingham community while creating new social networks. This unique series of events provides opportunities for students to engage with the exhibition in a variety of ways. Generous support for “Passport to the Natural World” is provided by Art Bridges.

About Art Bridges: 
Art Bridges is the vision of philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton. The mission of Art Bridges is to expand access to American art in all regions across the United States. Since 2017, Art Bridges has been creating and supporting programs that bring outstanding works of American art out of storage and into communities. Art Bridges partners with a growing network of more than 190 museums of all sizes and locations to provide financial and strategic support for exhibition development, loans from the Art Bridges collection, and programs designed to educate, inspire, and deepen engagement with local audiences. The Art Bridges Collection represents an expanding vision of American art from the 19th century to present day and encompasses multiple media and voices. To learn more about Art Bridges, follow the hashtag #ArtBridges on social media and visit www.artbridgesfoundation.org.

About the Whatcom Museum: 
The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., offers a variety of exhibitions, programs, tours and activities about art, nature and Northwest history for all ages. Its multi-building campus is in the heart of Bellingham's downtown Arts District. The Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., and Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., are open Thursdays – Sundays, Noon – 5 PM. For more information about our exhibitions and admission visit www.whatcommuseum.org.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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