Feature Articles
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August Issue 2006

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC, Features Works Based on Seashells

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC, will present an exhibit entitled, Seashells: Inside and Out, featuring works by four award-winning regional artists. The artists specializing in glass sculpture, photography, and water and oil based mediums, including artist/illustrator, Marilynn Brandenburger from Decatur, GA; Don Dudenbostel, a professional photographer from Knoxville, TN;  glass sculptor, Thomas Spake from Chattanooga, TN; and Heidi Fowler of Reston, VA, who paints in acrylic and sand on panel.

Marilynn Brandenburger, who created a series of shell paintings specifically for this show, has been a professional artist and instructor for more than 25 years. These paintings are a subset of her larger Boundary Waters series of landscapes and still-life paintings that refer to Lake Superior and the Gulf Coast of Florida, areas that hold special allure for her. She combines water and oil based media such as oil pastel over watercolor to achieve richer colors and more luminosity than either media can offer by itself.  

Don Dudenbostel exposes the hidden inner beauty of seashells with his translucent x-ray photography, which exudes a unique ethereal quality. He began his career as a child watching his father and grandfather who were both amateur photographers. As a student photo-journalist at the University of Tennessee, two of his photographs were published in Esquire and Newsweek. And in 1975, he had the good fortune to study with Ansel Adams at his home in Yosemite National Park. Dudenbostel has received numerous awards including three Kodak Gallery Awards.

Thomas Spake, who has been blowing glass for 12 years, describes himself as a sculptor of glass. He transforms molten glass into seashell forms, capturing the fragile beauty of the subjects that inspire his work. "I am inspired by the delicate, yet severe beauty of our natural world. Seashells are amazingly complex, structurally as well as domestically," Spake says. The city of Chattanooga commissioned Spake for two sculpture installations as part on their river front development in 2002 and again in 2005.

Heidi Fowler magnifies single areas of shells until the scale becomes almost limitless. Her acrylic and sand paintings have an other worldliness that she says references geological formations, deep sea basins, aerial topography, and even celestial phenomena. "Discarded from the sea, one fragment of shell among countless others could not be more unremarkable," Fowler says. "However, upon close inspection a shell appears to be a world unto itself."

Seashell enthusiasts are in for an added treat when the Museum hosts the annual Shell Show Exhibit, Sept. 14 -17, 2006, in the Traveling Exhibits Hall on the 2nd Floor.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the gallery at 919/733-7450, ext. 361 or at (www.naturalsciences.org/store/nature_gallery.html).



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