Tacoma, Wash. – At Kittredge Gallery in March and April are two exhibitions that explore the artistic impulse to mirror or recreate nature.
On view in the Small Gallery is Abby Williams Hill: Wanderlust, Works on Paper, 1895–1927. The drawings in the exhibition, some fully realized, others only the sparest of sketches, span three decades in time and range in subject from Vashon Island, the North Cascades, Montana, and the Southwest to Germany, France, Switzerland, and Belgium.
Adventurous and unconventional, Abby Williams Hill (1861–1943) was born in Grinnell, Iowa, educated at the Art Students League in New York, and settled in Tacoma with her husband, Frank Hill. Between 1903 and 1906, Hill accepted four commissions from the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads. The commissions allowed for extended stays in the North Cascades and at Yellowstone National Park, and fixed Hill’s reputation as a professional landscape painter. The works in the exhibition are drawn from her trips for the railroads as well as her extensive travels in the West and Europe, and faithfully record the varying landscapes she visited.
University of Puget Sound owns a collection of more than 120 works by Abby Williams Hill. Paintings from the Abby Williams Hill Collection are on permanent display on the first floor in Jones Hall, in the reading room of Collins Memorial Library, and outside the Slater Museum of Natural History in Thompson Hall.
Nature/Sculpture/Image, the exhibition in the Large Gallery, features contemporary works that move beyond recording nature into imitation. Rather than using organic materials to create their work, however, these artists have used a variety of media both traditional and unexpected. Their motives for creating these naturalistic works are varied. Some hope to trick us by seamlessly substituting artificiality for reality. Others hope to question or update our definition of what is natural from a 21st-century viewpoint encompassing both our reliance on manufactured goods and emerging societal emphasis on conservation and recycling. In some works the disjunction between the object’s realistic appearance and artificial construction is meant to intrigue, tease, or disorient the viewer and thereby force them to question their perceptions. And some hope to closely mirror the natural object as a way of both celebrating and investigating it.
Kittredge Gallery serves as a teaching tool for the art department and a cultural resource for both the university and the community at large, exhibiting work by noted regional and national artists. Exhibits and talks are free and open to the public.
March 9, 5 to 7 p.m., Kittredge Gallery
Gallery Location: University of Puget Sound, N. 15th St. at N. Lawrence St., Tacoma, WA
Directions and Map: www.pugetsound.edu/directions
Regular Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Mon.–Fri.; noon–5 p.m., Saturday*
*Please note that the gallery will be closed during Spring Break from March 14 to 18.
Print-quality photos can be downloaded from: www.pugetsound.edu/pressphotos.xml. More photos are available on request.
Photos above: Top right: Seattle Birches, by Kesler Woodward; above left: The Farmer's House, by Abby Williams Hill; above right: Small Bush, by Harry Bertoia.