Even if you are not in the Veterinary School, or even an animal lover, you’ll enjoy “Beastly Prints: Modern Interpretations of the Art of Bestiary,” part of the Overture Center’s new round of spring galleries.
The gallery is comprised of various pieces from three different artists – S.V. Medaris, Briony Morrow-Cribbs and Patrick Smyczek – who toy with different relationships and ideas relating to human and animal interactions. Each artist’s work has a unique style with a noticeably distinct appearance that makes it easy to distinguish one collection from another.
The first artist that appears in the gallery is Medaris, who has been living on a farm since 1988 in southern Wisconsin. The animals on her farm are what inspire her different pieces, which showcase dogs, chickens, turkeys and pigs.
Medaris’s work definitely has the most color out of the three, and her pieces range from reliefs to lithographs to woodcuts juxtaposed against the more modern day wooden frames in which they were placed. The most impressive out of Medaris’ pieces is the very first work of art – an eight or nine foot tall work of art.
“Cock O’ the Walk” is a giant woodcut that is full of brighter shades of red and green. Another striking piece titled “Page from Bestiary, A Study Guide…,” appeared to have been just ripped out of an ancient manuscript or codex – complete with illumination of both illustrations and text.
Morrow-Cribbs is the second artist featured in “Beastly Prints.” Three years ago, Morrow-Cribbs opened an etching studio in Brattleboro, Vermont, with fellow artist Helen O’Donnell called Twin Vixen Press. Morrow-Cribbs is currently illustrating a series of books with author Amy Stewart and is a MFA candidate here at the University of Wisconsin.
Morrow-Cribbs’ pieces were untraditional compared to Medaris’s pieces. While Medaris’s were full of color and traditionally framed, Morrow-Cribbs’ work, for the most part, was created with dull, muted colors or in black and white and was encased in silver, gold and copper antique frames.
The untraditional part comes next – Morrow-Cribbs deeply explored the animal and human connection in her pieces by combining parts of both into her works of art. Several pieces stood out – one called “Leopatra” with the head and shoulders of a woman and the torso and lower body of a leopard.
“Thelyphonida metacarpus,” another stand-out piece, depicted a human rib cage on top of an octopus. Morrow-Cribbs used framed etchings in her section of the gallery with the exception of a piece titled “Wicked Bugs.” This was a fascinating set of glass jars filled to the brim with water and drawings attached to the back showing various insects with long legs as well as a few beetles, worms and flies.
Smyczek, the last artist featured, is also an MFA candidate at UW. Smyczek’s artwork maintained compellingly unique facets of the entire exhibit. But with his art, a story was depicted. His watercolor screenprints played with tales of the ocean and its sea creatures as well as the human-animal interaction of the oceans. This series consisted of five very detailed pieces that showed a boat of land mammals (a squirrel, deer, zebra, rabbit and a few others) on a journey, which ultimately leads to several mass murders towards the middle of the series and also at the end.
Whether you are a fan of black and white etchings, bugs, brightly colored farm animals or sea creatures, “Beastly Prints” has something to offer for every art fanatic. Just make sure you say the whole title so people don’t mistaken you for a Vanessa Hudgens fan.
“Beastly Prints: Modern Interpretations of the Art of Bestiary” will run from April 11 to June 25 in Gallery I at the Overture Center. Free to all who wish to attend.