Spotlight: Birds of a Feather

A cross-pollination between BoxHeart Expressions and Phipps Conservatory blooms into “Emergent Patterns,” a nature-centered hat trick of a show featuring three female artists.



Photos Courtesy phipps and boxheart 

There’s no partridge in a pear tree. And forget the turtledoves, French hens, geese and swans that made the cut for the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

But if you’re game for augmenting and re-energizing that traditional (and oh-so-repetitious) holiday song, how about kingfishers, grey falcons or hummingbirds? Perhaps that’s what the artists in “Emergent Patterns” — a twofer venture hatched by BoxHeart Expressions and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens — had in mind. It’s unlikely, but this being the holiday season, it easily could be imagined (at least by me).

At the show, you’ll see those aforementioned avian species and many more manifestations of nature — dragonflies, moths, flowers, even stellar constellations — presented in vibrant, colorful and insightful paintings. The work of three artists appears: Ashley Cecil, Augustina Droze and Deirdre Murphy.

This project boasts a pair of trios, because in addition to the artists, another threesome brought it to fruition: BoxHeart owner/director Nicole Capozzi with the collaboration of BoxHeart co-owner Joshua Hogan and Phipps exhibit coordinator Jordyn Melino.

“My inspiration always comes from the artists,” Capozzi says. “I pay attention to them, to the stories they tell with their art and build exhibitions around exactly that.”

In 2015, Capozzi juried art for a publication and discovered Deirdre Murphy (and her talents). Through a circuitous yet serendipitous path, with connections leading to Phipps Conservatory along the way, she came upon the work of the other two artists.

All had noteworthy resumes and backgrounds with connections to Earth-friendly organizations and efforts. Each had a unique vision through which to explore our relationship to nature, yet an underlying synchronicity emerged. When bringing them together as a group for the first time, Capozzi detected a pattern: “A special meaning is derived from the artists’ combined efforts,” she says. “The process of bringing them together for this exhibition unfolded organically.”
 

Pittsburgh-based Cecil (born in 1981) juxtaposes detailed examples of flora and fauna with graphic patterns recalling Victorian textiles.
Among her sources of inspiration, Philadelphia-based Murphy (born in 1967) has been fascinated by the collective intelligence of bird flocks. That can be translated into abstract shapes.

Op-art and mandalas reverberate in the paintings of Buffalo-based Droze (born in 1981) with arrangements and magnification of birds, fish and insects. Her work also confronts the spectacle of death and our desire to control nature.

The question arises whether the choice of three female artists is coincidental or an emergent pattern itself.

“I have an intentional bias in an attempt to level the playing field for women artists exhibiting with my gallery,” Capozzi says. “In the context of this exhibition, I wanted to spotlight how these artists are using their field and their form of expression to address diverse views of our world.”

In addition to being a salute to Mother Nature, an examination of our relationship to her and a call for conservation, “Emergent Patterns” also has been positioned to coincide with the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

This visionary legislative effort made it illegal for anyone to possess or sell a migratory bird without the proper permit. Spearheaded by the United States, it remains a testament to international cooperation. It also laid a foundation for avian conservation and management and acknowledged the ecological and social importance of birds. (Anyone see a dodo or passenger pigeon lately?)

The curators of “Emergent Pattern” emphasize how bonding with nature and also enriching and giving back with beauty and color always have been a mission of the visual arts. In a statement, the curatorial trio declares that to be not only a part of the past and present but also the future:

“Artists collect data and interpret the information in order to depict their vision of a future world. Any particular political issue does not necessarily motivate them, but rather an artistic exploration into how modernization has shaped how we think about and experience our environment — both personally and commonly.”

As conservationist, “Silent Spring” author and Springdale native Rachel Carson once observed: “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”

With “Emergent Patterns,” she might see her emergent vision take flight again.

Speaking of nature: While visiting the Phipps component of the show, in the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, don’t miss the annual Winter Flower Show and Light Garden, which runs through Jan. 8.  

Emergent Patterns
Through Jan. 6: BoxHeart Expressions, 4523 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield; 412/687-8858, boxheartgallery.com;
Through Jan. 8: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1 Schenley Drive, Oakland; 412/622-6914, phipps.conservatory.org
 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

For a city only two centuries old, Pittsburgh has amassed a surprising amount of history. To assemble this collection of 50 of the region’s most fascinating historical artifacts, we hunted through museums, archives and private collections. We also looked for things many of us might pass each day without appreciating their significance.
The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

Tracing the story of the chain back to its roots — which, surprisingly, are not in Pittsburgh.
In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

After making films focused on Pittsburgh, Sokolow is rising through the ranks of U.S. women documentarians.
Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Salem’s offers accessible and delicious meals for Pittsburghers of all stripes.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Friday Night Sleep Out to Raise Money for Homeless

Friday Night Sleep Out to Raise Money for Homeless

If you’re on the hunt for Friday night plans with a purpose, consider sleeping outside to benefit those in Pittsburgh who have to spend every night on the streets.
The Fascinating History of the David McCullough Bridge

The Fascinating History of the David McCullough Bridge

More than 80 years after its demise was erroneously reported, the David McCullough Bridge still stands as an engineering and architectural highlight among the city’s many spans.
Gone Viral: Duquesne Students Score Big With Rat Slapshot

Gone Viral: Duquesne Students Score Big With Rat Slapshot

Their tic-tac-toe passing would impress Mike Sullivan.
1,000 Points Earns Crosby His Own Primanti Bros. Sandwich

1,000 Points Earns Crosby His Own Primanti Bros. Sandwich

Unlike previous Penguins-inspired sandwiches, Crosby’s “The Captain” could be on the menu for years to come.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

For a city only two centuries old, Pittsburgh has amassed a surprising amount of history. To assemble this collection of 50 of the region’s most fascinating historical artifacts, we hunted through museums, archives and private collections. We also looked for things many of us might pass each day without appreciating their significance.
The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

Tracing the story of the chain back to its roots — which, surprisingly, are not in Pittsburgh.
In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

After making films focused on Pittsburgh, Sokolow is rising through the ranks of U.S. women documentarians.
Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Salem’s offers accessible and delicious meals for Pittsburghers of all stripes.
Pittsburgh Penguins Share Tips for Parenting on Ice

Pittsburgh Penguins Share Tips for Parenting on Ice

In a year when youth-hockey participation is expected to increase, Pittsburgh Penguins players weigh in on the role of the hockey parent.
Face the Frost: Go Daytripping on Winter Hikes in Pittsburgh

Face the Frost: Go Daytripping on Winter Hikes in Pittsburgh

There’s a magical, snowy landscape right in your backyard.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Friday Night Sleep Out to Raise Money for Homeless

Friday Night Sleep Out to Raise Money for Homeless

If you’re on the hunt for Friday night plans with a purpose, consider sleeping outside to benefit those in Pittsburgh who have to spend every night on the streets.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
CSA Day Reminds Pittsburghers (and Beyond) To Support Local Farms

CSA Day Reminds Pittsburghers (and Beyond) To Support Local Farms

It's the third year running for the concept, which was created by Simon Huntley of Pittsburgh's Small Farm Central.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Adventure Bingo Returns at the Ace Hotel

Adventure Bingo Returns at the Ace Hotel

The one-of-a-kind night of bingo, trivia and madcap monologues returns in a new spot.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Dave Hanson and the Enduring Legacy of Slap Shot

Dave Hanson and the Enduring Legacy of Slap Shot

The Hanson Brothers and other stars of the classic hockey film will return to Johnstown this weekend for a 40th anniversary celebration.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Check out the chic decor from Pittsburgh-based artist and designer Janice Nelson.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Our Full 2017 Oscar Predictions (Wherein La La Land Wins Everything)

Our Full 2017 Oscar Predictions (Wherein La La Land Wins Everything)

Breaking down what we know and only think we know about the 2017 Academy Awards.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Our Favorite Unique Centerpiece (That’s Not Flowers)

Our Favorite Unique Centerpiece (That’s Not Flowers)

This couple’s centerpiece from our Real Pittsburgh Weddings shines brighter than the traditional table bouquet.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
The Candle Lab Ready To Make Its Debut in Lawrenceville

The Candle Lab Ready To Make Its Debut in Lawrenceville

The Columbus-based store, where you can customize your own candle fragrance, is expected to open in March.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at ‘Fences’

Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at ‘Fences’

An art director from Warner Bros. Studios will visit La Roche College to talk about the Oscar-nominated film with ties to Pittsburgh.

Comments