ALLENTOWN – The Baum School of Art’s January exhibition, “Nature Imagined/Observed,” is the juxtaposition of two artists inspired by similar themes in nature, yet express them through vastly different techniques.

Contemporary artist Kristen Egan and Mid-Century artist Conrad Roland (1900-1957) are Berks County natives from different eras of time. However, inspiration strikes through common themes such as the environment, biology, and observations of the natural world. “Nature Imagined / Observed” creates an interesting conversation about nature as inspiration, whether imagined or observed.

Conrad Roland (1900-1957), had always loved to draw and had admired nature. At the age of 17, Roland joined the Delaware Valley Ornithology Club and was on the Academy of Natural Science’s orbit. Although he loved learning about and observing birds and nature, Roland went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Throughout the rest of Roland’s life and career, he managed to combine his love and talent for art with his passion for ornithology. He created beautiful, academic, and realistic two-dimensional pieces of art from observation with traditional mediums such as watercolor and ink.

Similarly admiring the natural world while having a passion for art, artist Kristen Egan had a goal of becoming a professional wildlife artist. She studied and received her BFA in Art and Design from the SUNY College of Ceramics. Egan currently creates with unexpected mediums, merging new items into her work such as gourds, antlers, bone and horsehair to create imaginative, folk inspired, three-dimensional sculptures.

This exhibition creates a comparative dynamic about how works of art across the spectrum of styles and eras often stem from the same sources of inspiration. Paired together in this exhibition, Egan and Roland show how nature has been used as a muse across decades. Roland utilized a more academic approach, perfecting the art of realism, while Egan’s whimsical sculptures push the boundaries of imagination without abandoning the science of anatomy and structure. Their works explore the amazing details of flora and fauna, bringing the subjects to life.

In addition to our exhibition this month, Egan has shown her work regionally, nationally and internationally. Visit The Baum School of Art’s David E. Rodale and Rodale Family Galleries and see this thought provoking exhibition.

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