Hudson River Museum Presents Fall 2023 Exhibitions Celebrating Wildlife in Contemporary Art
YONKERS, NY, September 22, 2023—This fall, the Hudson River Museum is celebrating wildlife in art along with wild and unexpected pairings in three dynamic exhibitions:
- Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art and Hudson River Explorers: Prints by Holly Sears, both on view October 13, 2023–January 14, 2024, feature work by contemporary artists who depict animals in real and surreal settings to examine our impact on the environment.
- It Takes 2: Unexpected Pairings, on view September 29, 2023–March 2, 2025, explores the resonances and dissonances that arise when unrelated objects are set side by side, with works drawn from the HRM collection, loans from Art Bridges, and private collections.
Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art
October 13, 2023–January 14, 2024
View press images here.
Hudson River Museum visitors will explore the meaning of wildlife art within the context of contemporary art. Organized by the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art considers the diverse ways contemporary artists use animal imagery to address humanity’s interconnectedness with the natural world. Composed of works exclusively from the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s permanent collection, this exhibition offers a wide range of works in a variety of media divided into four thematic sections: Tradition, Politics, Science, and Aesthetics. These realms act as overlapping chapters, investigating the ways we use animal imagery to tackle human concerns.
“The Museum is delighted to present this series of work in a new, thought-provoking way. I hope that visitors consider these particular themes in other works of art to explore our interconnectedness with wildlife,” says Dr. Tammi Hanawalt, Curator of Art at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.
The title of this exhibition is a play on Charles Darwin’s concept of natural selection from his pivotal writing, On the Origin of Species (1859). Darwin’s ideas contributed much to the development of wildlife art in the late 1800s, as artists began to represent animals in natural habitats, enacting natural behaviors. The artists in this exhibit represent another stage in the evolution of animal art: choosing to represent animals in alternative, unnatural spaces—spaces more often directly linked to civilization than to wilderness.
“We are thrilled to be the New York venue to present this important and timely topic that explores our evolving relationship with wildlife and addresses humans’ impact on nature and its inhabitants,” states HRM Director and CEO Masha Turchinsky. “We are proud to share this exciting exhibition organized by our colleagues at the National Museum of Wildlife Art and look forward to tackling these important conversations through the lens of contemporary art.”
Featured artists include: Troy Abbott • Timothy Berg and Rebekah Myers • George Boorujy • John Buck • Julie Buffalohead • Mark Dion • Mark Eberhard • Dave Eggers • Juan Fontanive • Walton Ford • Scott Fraser • Peter Gerakaris • Gillie and Marc • Penelope Gottlieb • Starr Hardridge • Nicola Hicks • Dennis Hlynsky • Barbara Kassel • Zoe Keller • Wendy Klemperer • Kollabs, Anke Schofield and Luis Garcia-Nerey • Emily Lamb • Ruth Marshall • Wendy Maruyama • Robert McCauley • William Morris • Marc Petrovic • James Prosek • Shelley Reed • Preston Singletary • Allison Leigh Smith • Kiki Smith • Shawn Smith • Lauren Strohacker and Kendra Sollars • William Sweetlove • Leslie Thornton • Paul Villinski • JenMarie Zeleznak
Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art is organized by the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Generous support provided by Art Bridges.
Exhibitions are made possible by assistance provided by the County of Westchester.
Inspired by the Hudson River’s rich ecology and long history as a transportation corridor, Holly Sears created Hudson River Explorers, a remarkable body of work that focuses on naturalism and migration. In this 2012 print series, animals native to the region, such as white-tailed deer and sturgeon, as well as visitors from afar, such as elephants and polar bears, fly through the air, swim in the water, and perch on floating tree trunks and branches amid Hudson Valley landscapes. Sears’ often surreal scenes focus on the movement of animals, some of which are threatened or endangered, and reflect on our kinship with the natural world and the universality of the experience of living things. By enmeshing exotic species in the tissue of our local land, Sears aims to entice us to look closer, heighten our awareness, and question our assumptions about the mysteries of nature.
Another version of the Hudson River Explorers series is installed at the Metro-North Tarrytown train station on laminated windows along the overpass corridors. In 2010, Sears was chosen to participate in the MTA Arts & Design program, which commissions dynamic contemporary art for subway and commuter rail stations. She designed the views so that commuters may feel a connection with the creatures in her art, as fellow travelers on a river journey.
Holly Sears earned an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and her work has been featured at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Bergen Museum of Art and Science in New Jersey, and the Hudson River Museum. Besides the Museum, Sears is in the collections of New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NYU Langone Medical Center, American Telephone and Telegraph, Bank of America, and the Best Products Collection of Sidney and Frances Lewis.
Exhibitions are made possible by assistance provided by the County of Westchester.
Additional support has been provided by Ellyn Plato and John Boyer.
The power of an artwork is often amplified when in dialogue or debate with another. It Takes 2: Unexpected Pairings explores the resonances and dissonances that arise when unrelated objects are set side by side. These unlikely companions, drawn from the HRM collection, loans from Art Bridges, and a private collection, span different centuries, cultures, and media. Their juxtaposition may reveal overlapping frames of reference, draw out previously unnoticed dimensions, or challenge preconceived notions of universality.
In the eight pairings featured here, each explored under a different theme, the artworks stand on their own and also hold a mirror to one another. One poignant pairing reveals two striking explorations of love. Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Untitled (L.A.), 1991, is installed near an ornate wedding platter from the 1870s. Gonzalez-Torres’s candy-spill work dates from the same year he lost his beloved partner to an AIDS-related illness and is a testament to their relationship. The ceramic dish, produced by W. T. Copeland & Sons, features wedding vows as part of its decoration, including “in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” The platter was made to hold food for wedding guests, just as Gonzalez-Torres meant for visitors to consume the commemorative candy.
In other juxtapositions, works by Georgia O’Keeffe and Andy Warhol invite us to consider organic forms we can encounter everyday from a fresh perspective, and Winslow Homer’s watercolor of a Florida coastal scene and Catherine Latson’s sculptural dress made of shells suggest changing relationships to nature. Finally, the fantasy realm of children’s play provides a vehicle for artists JooYoung Choi and Mark O’Banks to rewrite history, to upend social injustices through invented worlds and very different artistic sensibilities.
Laura Vookles, Chair, HRM Curatorial Department, states, “It Takes 2 continues our commitment to presenting the Museum’s collection in new and exciting ways and providing opportunities to consider these artworks in a new light. Pared down to just sixteen selections, each work has room to stand on its own as well as enter into conversation with another and inspire visitors to make their own observations and connections.”
Several works in this exhibition are generously lent by Art Bridges, Bentonville, Arkansas, as part of the Art Bridges’ Collection Loan Partnership initiative.
Significant support is provided by the New York State Senate and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Exhibitions are made possible by assistance provided by the County of Westchester.
Sarah Provost is a puppetry and theater artist bringing stories to life through collaborative visual storytelling. Provost will use the innate playful nature of puppetry to engage museum-goers of all ages in an exploration of what a “natural” or “unnatural” habitat means for both humans and animals. The artist has created and performed work for twenty years on many stages in New York City and toured nationally and internationally.
Family Day: Wildlife Among Us
Saturday, October 14, 11:30am–5pm
Join us for fun and exciting activities in celebration of our new exhibitions, Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art and Hudson River Explorers: Holly Sears. Meet local experts in animal rescue, rehabilitation, and ecology, who will provide information about how to safely coexist with the wildlife in your backyard. Highlights include a dance workshop and performance, a talk about native bees, a curator tour, storytimes, and interdisciplinary hands-on workshops. Support provided by Art Bridges.
Storytelling and Dance Workshop
Saturday, October 14, 11:30am
Join us in an interactive storytelling and dance workshop, led by performing artist Omar Edwards and inspired by artworks in Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art. With roots in Africa, Edwards is a tap dancer and griot—a class of traveling poets, musicians, and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa. Recommended for ages 7–12. This program is part of Family Day: Wildlife Among Us. Support provided by Art Bridges.
Curator Tour of Un/Natural Selections
Saturday, October 14, 1pm
Join Laura Vookles, HRM Chair, Curatorial Department, for a walk-through of Un/Natural Selections, which addresses how artists use animal imagery to tackle human concerns and responsibilities. Consider the exhibition’s four major themes—Tradition, Politics, Science, and Aesthetics—with close-up views and conversations inspired by the works of both well-known and emerging contemporary artists.
Saturday, October 14, 1–4pm
Experience the Westchester Land Trust’s Pollinator Pop-Up, a mobile exhibit offering hands-on activities and a wealth of information for pollinator-lovers of all ages. An educator will be on hand to provide advice and resources for families, gardeners (especially beginners!), and budding citizen scientists. All materials are provided in both English and Spanish.
Animal Nation Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation
Saturday, October 14, 1–4pm
Animal Nation rehabilitator Megan Apicelli demonstrates how to safely coexist with the wildlife in your backyard—avoid attracting deer, live peacefully with raccoons, the surprising benefits of opossums, and, of course, what to do if you find an animal you think has been lost or orphaned. Animal Nation is a non-profit wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility that includes a farm, sanctuary, and adoption center in Westchester, New York, and Norwalk, Connecticut. Their mission is to eliminate cruelty to animals while spreading compassion into the hearts of all beings. For 20 years Animal Nation has been the go-to regional resource for wildlife, farm animals, and cats in need, receiving about 8,000 calls per year.
Native Beeology: A Talk with Tim Stanley
Saturday, October 14, 2pm
Wildlife expert Tim Stanley leads a talk about bees and other pollinators and their role in a healthy environment. Stanley is a past president of the New York State Outdoor Education Association that promotes education in the outdoors, and he is currently the Assistant Director at Sharpe Reservation and serves as President of the Stony Kill Foundation Board of Directors. Support provided by Art Bridges.
Dance Performance by Omar Edwards
Saturday, October 14, 3pm
Performing artist Omar Edwards takes the audience on a tap dance journey through time and space with his band, the New York Jazz Gypsies, and their smooth sounds of jazz, R&B, and Latin. Inspired by Un/Natural Selections, Edwards will literally flip Darwin on his head. Support provided by Art Bridges.
Puppetry Workshop: Animal Shadow Puppets
Sunday, October 22, 1:30–3:30pm
Create your own shadow puppets of animals for a shadow theater constructed by Sarah Provost, HRM’s Fall 2023 Teaching Artist-in-Residence, for a collaborative, visual storytelling workshop inspired by Un/Natural Selections and the Museum’s beloved Nybylwyck Dollhouse, on view in It Takes 2. Take part in this creative project that plays on the innately playful nature of puppetry to engage museum-goers of all ages. Support provided by Art Bridges.
The Wizard of Lizards: Live Reptile Program
Sunday, October 29, 1:30 & 2:30pm
Come observe and handle exotic reptiles such as corn snakes, geckos, pythons, and frogs, while learning about where and how they live from the self-proclaimed “Wizard of Lizards” of Reptile Party. Support provided by Art Bridges.
Trickster as Teacher: The Art of Julie Buffalohead (Virtual)
Wednesday, November 8, 7pm
In recognition of National Native American Heritage Month, artist Julie Buffalohead joins National Museum of Wildlife Art Curator Tammi Hanawalt, PhD, for a discussion of Buffalohead’s work and how she employs wildlife and tricksters to tell contemporary stories using traditional characters. Buffalohead explores Indigenous cultural experience through metaphor and narrative. Using an eclectic color palette, her paintings feature representations of animals caught within a horizonless field and speak to the issue of the commercialization of Native culture. She often depicts the paradoxical trickster character from traditional Native stories. Sometimes represented as a coyote, crow, or rabbit, according to Buffalohead, “. . . the tricksters are the teachers that reveal something about what it means to be human.” Understood to be both good and evil, tricksters are complex, with animal references whose designation is specific to cultures. Support provided by Art Bridges.
Canine Celebration: Dogs & Wolves
Sunday, November 19, 12–4pm
Meet an adoptable dog from SPCA Westchester, and make your own take-home canine companion in a special Family Art Workshop. Plus, explore the history, ecology, and biology of wolves with a presentation by the Wolf Conservation Center and tune in to their live-streamed wolf webcam.
Stories from the People of the Longhouse
Friday, November 24, 1 & 3pm
In recognition of Native American Heritage Day, join master storyteller Perry Ground (Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation) to hear traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) stories about the beliefs, customs, and history of the People of the Longhouse. The Haudenosaunee people are among the original inhabitants of today’s New York State. This interactive and engaging performance for all ages, features a variety of animal characters, some of which can be found in Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art. Support provided by Art Bridges.
Puppetry Workshop: Shadow Masks
Saturday, November 25, 1:30–3:30pm
Create shadow masks in a workshop led by Teaching Artist-in-Residence Sarah Provost, a puppetry and theater artist who brings narratives to life through collaborative visual storytelling. This workshop is inspired by Un/Natural Selections and the Museum’s beloved Nybylwyck Dollhouse, on view in It Takes 2: Unexpected Pairings. Support provided by Art Bridges.
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Hudson River Museum is a preeminent cultural institution in Westchester County and the New York metropolitan area. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, the HRM’s mission is to engage, inspire, and connect diverse communities through the power of the arts, sciences, and history.
The Museum offers engaging experiences for every age and interest, with an ever-evolving collection of American art and dynamic exhibitions that range from notable nineteenth-century paintings to contemporary art installations. The HRM’s new West Wing offers sweeping views of the Hudson River in dedicated exhibition galleries. The campus also includes Glenview, an 1877 house on the National Register of Historic Places; a state-of-the-art Planetarium; an environmental teaching gallery; and an outdoor Amphitheater. Accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting these multidisciplinary offerings, which are complemented by an array of public programs that encourage creative expression, collaboration, and artistic and scientific discovery.
Hours and Admission: Hudson River Museum is open to the public Thursday–Friday, 12–5pm, Saturday–Sunday, 11am–5pm. Mask wearing and COVID-19 vaccination are no longer required, but are recommended for all visitors. Learn more and purchase tickets at hrm.org/visit.
General Admission: Adults $13; Youth (3–18) $8; Seniors (62+) $9; Students (with valid ID) $9; Veterans $9; Children (under 3) FREE; Members FREE; Museums for All* $2, *SNAP/EBT card with photo ID (up to 4 people). Planetarium tickets: Adults $7; Youth (3–18) $5; Seniors (62+) $6; Students (with valid ID) $6; Veterans $6; Children (under 3) Free. Glenview tours: Adults $7; Youth (3–18) $5; Seniors (62+) $6; Students (with valid ID) $6; Veterans $6; Children (under 3) Free. The Museum is accessible by Metro-North (Hudson Line—Yonkers and Glenview stations), by Bee-Line Bus Route #1, by car, and by bike. Make your visit a One-Day Getaway, and buy a combined rail and admission discount ticket. Learn more about Metro-North Deals & Getaways.