On February 1, 2020, Tacoma Art Museum will open The Naturalist & The Trickster: Audubon/RYAN!. Although centuries apart, artists John James Audubon and RYAN! Feddersen draw inspiration from animals and the natural world to create compelling work that urges us to better understand the human impact on the environment. As 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, TAM presents this exhibition which explores themes of animals, environmentalism, and conservation.
“Juxtaposing these two artists will present a very immersive and thought-provoking experience regarding perceptions of the natural world and relationships between humans and the environment,” said Faith Brower, TAM’s Haub Curator of Western American Art. “During Audubon’s life his prints were one of the ways that scientific information from the American West could be shared and studied. His respect and concern for the natural world clearly marks him as one of the forefathers of the modern conservation and environmental movements,” noted Brower.
Tacoma-based, RYAN! Feddersen, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and a contemporary mixed media artist, explores the character of Coyote, the trickster, as a lens to examine current events. Feddersen’s 75-foot mural encourages collaborative drawing with crayons cast in the shape of coyote bones which further links the community to Coyote’s story. Also included in the exhibition will be Feddersen’s recently created glass vessels produced during an artist residency at Museum of Glass in August 2019.
“Feddersen’s engaging storytelling presents a contemporary perspective on the interactions of humans, animals, and the natural world in humorous and compelling ways,” stated Brower.
More about John James Audubon
In the early 1840s, renowned naturalist and artist John James Audubon (1785-1851) decided to document the animals of North America in detailed drawings. Having achieved worldwide fame with his multi-volume Birds of America series, he joined with his sons John Woodhouse and Victor Audubon, to complete the definitive study of American wildlife, and to present them in a format as impressive as he used for his birds. The results of his years of field research, travel, and study was The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, the 19th century’s seminal publication on American mammals. He eventually produced 150 folio drawings, hand-printed and hand-colored by J.T. Bowen of Philadelphia, PA.
More about RYAN! Elizabeth Feddersen
RYAN! Elizabeth Feddersen (b.1984) specializes in creating interactive murals, site-specific installations, and immersive public artworks that invite audience engagement. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Cornish College of the Arts in 2009, then remained in Seattle, working as an artist, curator, studio assistant, and arts administrator, until recently relocating to Tacoma, Washington. Feddersen grew up in Wenatchee, Washington as a part of a creative family with multiple cultural perspectives. She is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, from the Okanogan and Arrow Lakes bands, and of mixed European decent. Utilizing traditional Plateau storytelling applied to contemporary issues, historical research, and digital tools, Feddersen creates material applications which interrogate official histories, examining how what we think has been formed by the information we have been taught. She explores creative strategies to activate participation through interactive materials, crowd sourced content, and social practice. These approaches enable her work to start conversations about a broad spectrum of subjects by offering opportunities for interaction and introspection. Feddersen recently received a National Fellowship in Visual Art from the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, Visual Artist Fellowship from Artist Trust and completed permanent public artworks Synecdoche for the Burke Museum in Seattle and NEXUS for the city of Tacoma’s Prairie Line Trail. She has created large-scale interactive installations and site-specific pieces throughout North America, working with Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, the Museum of Art & History Santa Cruz, Seattle Art Museum, City of Tacoma, Alternator Centre, Missoula Art Museum, the College of New Jersey, and Northeastern University, as well as curated exhibitions for the Burke Museum, Museum of Northwest Art, and Center for Contemporary Native Art at the Portland Art Museum.
This exhibition was organized by Tacoma Art Museum. John James Audubon: The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America portfolio is on loan from the Huntsville Museum of Art. RYAN! Feddersen’s work is on loan courtesy of the artist.
The exhibition is generously supported by the Haub Family Endowment and, in part, ArtsFund.
February 1- May 10, 2020