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June 2011

The NC Arboretum in Asheville Offers Exhibits for the Summer

The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, NC, is presenting two new exhibits for the Summer including: Botanical Chords by Terry Ashley and The Fine Art of Wood: An International Invitational Exhibition of Woodturning. Both exhibitions are on view in the Baker Exhibit Center’s Exhibit Hall, through Sept. 5, 2011. The two exhibitions will take center stage at the Arboretum this summer, both giving unique and awe-inspiring perspectives on how artists utilize plants in their work.

Botanical Chords by Terry Ashley blurs the line between science and art. A former research scientist at Yale University School of Medicine, Ashley developed her technique while pursuing her hobby of photographing plant parts under the light microscope. Ashley termed her art “chords” because they connect two separate images, one traditional plant photograph and one image taken at a cellular level.

To create the microscopic image, Ashley carefully peels a single layer of cells from a plant leaf, stem, or petal and photographs it under high magnification. She then places a picture of the plant’s exterior on top of the picture of its cells, creating a textured, multi-layered piece of art. Aesthetically stunning and scientifically accurate, the images encourage an understanding of plants at a cellular level.

Science was Ashley’s first passion. After receiving her PhD from Florida State University in Genetics, she indulged her curiosity and pursued her search for beauty and order by studying meiotic chromosome behavior under the microscope. Now retired, Dr. Ashley considers her mission as an artist to raise awareness for and appreciation of the beauty that lies just below the level of resolution of our own eyesight.

The Fine Art of Wood: An International Invitational Exhibition of Woodturning will feature the work of more than 40 artists from across the country and around the world. The exhibit will showcase a wide variety of style and presentation, from pedestal and tabletop pieces to wall hangings. The American Association of Woodturners, along with their local chapter, the Carolina Mountain Woodturners, helped facilitate this exhibit.

As evidenced by their work, woodturners are passionate about what they do. Participating artist Harvey Fein states one joy of woodturning is “to find what’s inside and then over the design to complement and enhance what goes on in the wood, and incorporate surprises into the design.” Dennis Elliot, whose wall sculpture will be featured in the show, likens the art form to another delicate process involving a natural wonder. “Pondering a burl that was once a living part of a tree, I treat the cutting of it like a diamond, knowing this piece of wood was once, and can be again, a thing of beauty.”

During the exhibit run, the Carolina Mountain Woodturners will host demonstrations to illustrate the basics of woodturning. The demonstrations will take place from 10am until 3pm, Friday through Sunday during the weekends of June 10, July 1, and August 12. Chapter members will have work for sale during these events, and will available to answer questions about woodturning.

To broaden the visitor experience, an exhibit called Into the Wood will be featured in the Baker Exhibit Center Greenhouse. Designed and produced by Arboretum staff, the exhibit will explore the differences between hardwood and softwood, as well as the many variables that can affect the appearance and health of a tree. Into the Wood is supported by Asheville Hardware, Community Partner of The North Carolina Arboretum.

The Fine Art of Wood is one of three shows this summer bringing the best of woodturning art and craft to the region. Blue Spiral 1, located on historic Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville, is hosting Wood Moving Forward, featuring the work of 14 premier Southern artists from July 1 through Sept. 30, 2011. Grovewood Gallery, located near the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, in Asheville, will present A Wood Collector’s Home, featuring work by 19 top wood artists from across North America from July 1 through Oct. 2, 2011.

The central mission of The North Carolina Arboretum, an affiliate institution of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system, is to cultivate connections between people and plants.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Arboretum at 828/665-2492 or visit (

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