Winging It

Winging It:
Colby Caldwell, Todd Forsgren, Justin Gibbens, Megan Greene, Jenny Sidhu Mullins, Roger Tory Peterson, and Beverly Ress
June 15 - July 28, 2012
Opening Reception: Friday, June 15, 6-8 pm

Heiner Contemporary is delighted to announce Winging It, a group exhibition exploring the study and depiction of birds, featuring work by Colby Caldwell, Todd Forsgren, Justin Gibbens, Megan Greene, Jenny Sidhu Mullins, Roger Tory Peterson, and Beverly Ress. The exhibition takes as its starting point three works by the American naturalist, ornithologist and artist Roger Tory Peterson. In 1934, Peterson published A Field Guide to the Birds, the first modern field guide available to amateurs, which revolutionized birding through its new identification system and by making bird watching accessible to the masses. He went on to publish numerous books, each of which demonstrates his sensitivity and devotion to the natural world and its preservation. The huge popularity of his guides as well as his environmentally conscientious methods of depicting birds, plants, insects, and mammals have greatly contributed to wildlife conservation and stewardship. Whether directly or indirectly, the contemporary artists in this exhibition are indebted to Peterson and his work.

Winging It brings together Peterson's bird studies and work by a new generation of artists who share his fascination with and appreciation of the natural world, especially its feathered inhabitants. From Beverly Ress' meticulous colored pencil drawings of bird specimens housed at the National Museum of Natural History to Megan Greene's thought-provoking riffs on classic Audubon prints, each artist draws from the history of ornithology and expands upon it to meet contemporary issues. Todd Forsgren, who directly links his work to Peterson, travels the world with groups of ornithologists photographing netted birds that are caught and then released for scientific study. Forsgren's depictions of live birds from around the globe provide a sharp contrast to Colby Caldwell's poetic photographs of found bird wings that allude to the fragility of living things. Justin Gibbens' and Jenny Mullins' beautifully rendered watercolors and graphite drawings present the viewer with disquieting images that relay a cautionary tale advocating the stewardship Peterson worked so hard to foster.

Colby Caldwell graduated from the Corcoran School of Art (now College of Art and Design) in 1990 and was selected for the 48th Corcoran Biennial, Closer to Home, in 2006. Recent solo exhibitions include Gun Shy at Hemphill Fine Arts and Spent at Civilian Art Projects, both 2012. He has been featured in many publications, including Artforum and 100 DC Artists, a book that was published in 2011. Caldwell currently lives St. Mary's City, MD, where he is an Associate Professor of Art at St Mary's College of Maryland.

Todd R. Forsgren graduated with a BA in biology and visual art from Bowdoin College in 2003. In 2005 he received a post-baccalaureate certificate from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and went on to earn a master's degree in photography from J.E. Purkyně University in the Czech Republic. He has been awarded several residencies and received a Fulbright Fellowship, which took him to Mongolia in 2008. His photographs have been shown at galleries including Jen Bekman Gallery in New York and Carroll and Sons in Boston. He lives in Washington DC and teaches at Maryland Institute College of Art and Anne Arundel Community College.

Justin Gibbens received a BA in painting and drawing from Central Washington University in 1998 and a Scientific Illustration Certificate from the University of Washington in 2003. He is the recipient of a 2006 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award and 2008 Artist Trust Fellowship Award. Gibbens has shown nationally and internationally at spaces including Jiu Liumi Gallery in Hefei, China, McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, OR. He is a founding member of PUNCH Gallery, an artist-run gallery located in Seattle, WA, and lives in rural Thorp, Washington.

Megan Greene graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame in 1998 and in 2002 earned an MFA from Rutgers University, where she was awarded the Dean Bettenbender Memorial Performance Award. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally at galleries including Kinz Tillou, NY and Katharine Mulherin, Toronto, Canada. Her work is in many collections, including those of The Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo NY, Geddy Lee (of the band Rush), and The Anderson Gallery also in Buffalo. Greene lives and works in Chicago.

Jenny Sidhu Mullins recently completed a Fulbright Nehru Grant in India, where she researched spiritual tourism and traditional Buddhist Thangka painting techniques. She earned a BFA in Studio Art from The University of Texas at Austin and MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2009. Mullins was a resident artist at The Arlington Arts Center and fellow at Hamiltonian Artists, both in Washington, DC. Her work has been internationally exhibited and was recently featured in the American Embassy in Mumbai, India as part of their permanent collection. Her work has been written about in several publications including The Washington Post and a 2009 edition of New American Paintings. Mullins lives and works in San Francisco, CA.

Roger Tory Peterson (1908 -1996) was an American naturalist, ornithologist, artist, and educator, and is remember as one of the founding inspirations for the 20th century environmental movement. In 1934 he published his seminal A Field Guide to the Birds, the first modern field guide, which sold out its first printing of 2000 copies in one week, and subsequently went through six editions. He co-wrote Wild America and edited or wrote many of the volumes in the Peterson Field Guide series, on topics ranging from rocks and minerals to beetles to reptiles. He developed the Peterson Identification System, and is known for the clarity of both his illustrations of field guides and his delineation of relevant field marks.

Beverly Ress received an AB from Earlham College, Richmond, IN and an MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. She has shown extensively, including solo exhibitions at The Phillips Collection, McLean Project for the Arts, and the Kentler International Drawing Space in Brooklyn NY. Ress is the recipient of a 2008 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant as well as a Public Sculpture Commission from the city of Rockville, MD. Her work has been reviewed in numerous publications including Art in America, The Village Voice, and Baltimore City Paper. Ress teaches at Catholic University in Washington, DC and lives in Silver Spring, MD.

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