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

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Sports media company Whistle Sports documented Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon's recovery workout regime.
Celebrating 75 Years: Connecting History with Community

Celebrating 75 Years: Connecting History with Community

The Heinz History Center’s World War II traveling exhibit focuses on western Pennsylvania’s ties to history.
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy's Meg Cheever To Step Down

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy's Meg Cheever To Step Down

The nonprofit's founding President and CEO will leave her position early next year.
Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

Pittsburgh Pens' Spouse is ‘Hockey Wife’ On and Off Camera

After a Stanley Cup-winning season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, one player’s wife is working on her own claim to fame.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

The latest restaurant from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group brings Texas-style smoked meats and more to Downtown.
Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Go subterranean at Laurel Caverns, the largest cave in Pennsylvania.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Sports media company Whistle Sports documented Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon's recovery workout regime.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

The beloved Pittsburgh institution will serve its last meal in April.

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


The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

Voodoo Brewery is an enticing alternative to the many chains in and around the Waterfront.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Even as they entertained Dont’a Hightower for nearly seven hours during a free-agent recruiting trip to the South Side, the Steelers never lost sight of who they are or what they’re all about.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

The miniature bath- and shower-oil collection from Aromatherapy Associates makes every shower a luxury experience.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

Reviews of two films appearing at the 2017 Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: "I, Daniel Blake," and "The Eagle Huntress." Plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Happy to see warmer weather? This gorgeous winter wedding may actually have you missing the snow.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Looking for a unique piece? Inventory from Artistry, which closed up shop in the Strip District after more than 25 years in business, will be sold at auction this weekend.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
New Club is a Hit at Thiel College

New Club is a Hit at Thiel College

The Outdoor Recreation Club becomes the newest student organization at the college.

Comments