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BAGSC at the Getty

Jenny Phillips in the Getty Garden

Jenny Phillips in the Getty Garden

This past June, July, and August, BAGSC participated in a variety of educational outreach programs held in conjunction with the Maria Sibylla Merian exhibit, titled “Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters, Women of Art and Science” at the J. Paul Getty Museum, featuring activities that introduced the public to botanical art, entomology, botany, natural history, and Suriname.

Tania Norris was instrumental in bringing Jenny Phillips to the Getty to explore flower and insect drawings by Merian and her daughters in a Getty “Point of View” lecture. Jenny also demonstrated and lectured in an “Artist at Work” presentation, celebrating the beginning of summer with a one-day demonstration about the art and practice of botanical painting.

Tania provided the voice over for the GettyGuide Audio Tour of the exhibit, as well as the voice-over for the slide show on the web site at

Tania was also instrumental in connecting BAGSC with the Getty. BAGSC’s participation began in June when Deborah Shaw and Tania Marien introduced Getty Gallery Teachers to the techniques of botanical illustration and to plant morphology. They also taught a two-week course in June (repeated in July) to the public, designed to introduce participants to botanical illustration, and to provide an experience similar to what Merian must have experienced upon traveling to Suriname and observing unfamiliar plants. The Getty arranged for this class to be taught in conjunction with The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Jim Folsom, director of the botanical gardens at the Huntington Library, lead tours of the Huntington’s conservatory and greenhouses and introduced participants to how plants work.

Veronica at the BAGSC Family Festival table

Veronica at the BAGSC Family Festival table

BAGSC members participated in two Getty Family Festivals, where they conducted botanical art demonstrations in the Getty’s Central Garden and lead a host of children’s activities. Both festivals were well-attended. Children who visited the BAGSC area had the option of coloring engravings created by Merian, creating a natural history illustration with leaf rubbings, stamping fruits and vegetables with tempera paint to create their own “paintings”, and drawing plants and insects freehand. At other Family Festival venues, children of all ages could make a hat out of ti leaves, assemble floral brooches, create their own butterflies, create picture frames, stamp and mail postcards, and listen to the music of Suriname.

During the entire month of July, BAGSC members demonstrated botanical drawing and painting twice each week in the Getty’s Central Garden.

BAGSC member Kathy Dunham also taught classes at the Getty. Kathy led the Getty’s Drawing Hour and demonstrated how to create a nature journal during three early-evening classes in July and August.

Sally Markel with Deb in the Getty Garden

Sally Markel with Deb in the Getty Garden

And, in a true “Small World” moment, Sally Markel ran into Deborah Shaw during one of the botanical art demonstrations. Sally happened to be out visiting friends in Southern California, and came across BAGSC members doing the Getty “Artist at Work” demonstrations. Sally generously donated her pineapple illustration for use on the ASBA Annual Meeting & Conference web site registration.

The exhibition is open at the Getty until the end of August. Information about the exhibition (and Tania’s voice over) can be found on the Getty web site. Once the exhibition is over, information can be found in the Getty web site archives. The exhibition catalog and other books about Maria Sibylla Merian can be found online in the Getty bookstore.

More photos will be published to the blog soon. Stay tuned!

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