There is perhaps nothing that inspires creativity more than nature itself. So Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest’s artist-in-residence program seems a perfectly fitting way to bring together art and nature.
Established in 1980, Bernheim’s artist-in-resident program has since become internationally renowned and this year a record 260 artists from 34 states and 34 countries applied for the three positions available.
In exchange for comfortable rustic housing, a $2,500 honorarium, access to studio space and staff support for new work development, the artists-in-residence create site-inspired artwork, temporary installations or projects as donations to the Bernheim Foundation. Recipients are asked to engage the public with their work and process, which may include (but are not limited to) demonstrations, workshops, lectures and participation in one of Bernheim’s programs or annual events.
“As we enter into our 41st year of the program, we will continue to celebrate the contributions of artists that have allowed our visitors to experience nature and art in new ways while enhancing awareness of Bernheim’s mission of connecting people with nature,” said Bernheim Arts in Nature Curator Jenny Zeller.
Those selected as the 2021 Bernheim artists-in-residence include:
• Anne Peabody, a Kentuckian now living in Brooklyn, N.Y., who employs various organic and recycled materials such as wood, glass and metal to create landscape-based art.
Peabody has been researching the history of Kentucky overshot coverlets and how Appalachian weavers created designs using natural dyes to pass down family history and lore. She plans to work with the Little Loomhouse, Berea College and independent area weavers to incorporate some of these patterns and techniques into her work. At Bernheim, she plans to explore the forest at all times of the day and night and will use her discoveries to create installation and weaving patterns specific to the forest.
• Laura Poulette is a drawer and painter from Berea who creates geographical and botanical studies inspired by the incredible diversity of the Appalachian region. Her final works resemble large insect or specimen display cases.
Poulette plans to document the plants and trees of Bernheim seasonally throughout the botanical year and create large-scale drawings and paintings that could possibly be reproduced and installed in the forest.
Poulette has shown her work at many juried exhibits throughout the region, receiving awards and grants from Penland School of Craft, the Kentucky Arts Council, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and most recently a 2021 Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women to write, illustrate and produce an artful nature journal.
• Norman Spencer is a self-taught printmaker from Louisville who specializes in custom woodcuts and linocuts with subjects consisting of ideas around community, nature and identity.
Spencer plans to create a series of linocut prints celebrating Black people enjoying the Bernheim wilderness to increase representation and inspire Black people to explore the natural world. Images will feature scenes from various natural landmarks found in Bernheim. He has an exhibit slated at Garner Narrative in Louisville this winter that will include images made at Bernheim with those from other natural landmarks in Kentucky, including Cumberland Falls, Mammoth Cave, Natural Bridge and more.