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Curating “Portraits of Plants”

October 8, 2021
04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Exhibition curators Yota Batsaki and Anatole Tchikine describe their thinking behind “Margaret Mee: Portraits of Plants.”

Exhibition curators Yota Batsaki and Anatole Tchikine describe their thinking behind Margaret Mee: Portraits of Plants, an exhibition focused on plants in the Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection that also includes works by local and contemporary botanical artists and illustrators. Central to the exhibition are twenty works by Margaret Mee, the renowned British painter of Amazonian flora that was also an early activist and advocate for conservation of the Amazon. The exhibition situates Mee in a tradition of women botanical artists from the seventeenth century to the present. 

Margaret Mee: Portraits of Plants is informed by the Plant Humanities Initiative at Dumbarton Oaks that seeks to explore the deep influence of plants on human cultures. We rely on plants for our most fundamental needs, yet most of the time we remain oblivious to their fascinating histories. At a time of rapid climate change and habitat loss, attending to the diverse roles that plants play in our environment is more important than ever. The stunning works by the artists in the exhibition, straddling the boundary between art and science, refresh our attention and make an urgent call to our care.  

Margaret Mee, 1964, 66 × 48 cm, gouache, signed and dated “Heliconia, Proc: Amazonas, Nr. Manaus, November, 1964. Margaret Mee”