'America's Flora' is showing at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas thru Nov. 27. Courtesy of Chris Smith.

Oct. 9, 2019

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us,” wrote British novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch. 

A new exhibition at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Fort Worth is sure to bring joy to anthophiles like Murdoch – and anyone who appreciates native plants.

Botanical Art Worldwide: America’s Flora runs through Nov. 27 and is part of a worldwide project featuring original works by artists who portray their country’s native plants in watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, and etching. Subjects range from newly discovered specimens to plants that are widespread and familiar. Admission is free.

Carol Woodin at BRITCurator Carol Woodin gives a tour of the BRIT exhibit. Courtesy of Chris Smith.

The exhibition was developed by the American Society of Botanical Artists and the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. Forty-six of the 240 images submitted for consideration were selected for the show. 

“[Jurors] looked at aesthetics, technical mastery and botanical accuracy” as well as variety in media, said Carol Woodin, exhibitions director for the American Society of Botanical Artists, who gave an introductory presentation at BRIT on Saturday. 

The works depict in exquisite detail plants from around the country, including the Osage orange, buffalo gourd and flowering dogwood, each from Texas. Indigenous species from all 50 states are represented in the exhibition, which is among similar shows launched simultaneously in 24 other countries.

Texas floraTexas native plants. Courtesy of John Kent.

The Botanical Art Worldwide collaboration aims to link people with plants through botanical art and increase their awareness of the world’s plant diversity. Being an artist is not required to appreciate the beauty and refinement of each composition.

“I hope it gives them a fresh view of what plants are,” Woodin said. “There’s what they call today ‘plant blindness’ – people really don’t see the distinctive quality of each of the plants. But they underpin everything on earth. They create oxygen, they give us food, and if you eat animals they feed those animals.” 

Woodin, herself a renowned botanical artist whose work is represented in the exhibition, believes the project could serve as an important record for future generations.

“There are a lot of plants that we will lose, there’s no question about it. That’s another reason we did the project. Because if you look at some of the natural history artworks from 500 years ago, some of those things are not here anymore, whether they be plants or animals. And the way things are disappearing, sometime, maybe 500 years from now, some of these records may be all that’s left of what we had,” she said. “We know that if they’re kept properly they’ll be accessible. We don’t really know what’s going to happen to digital records in 500 years, but we do know that these can last.”

All but three of the works are for sale, with prices ranging from $900 to $8,000.

BRIT is the exhibition’s last destination, following showings at the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis and the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wis. 

America's FloraBotanical Art Worldwide: America’s Flora

About: The exhibit features 46 original works by artists, portraying native plants of the U.S. in watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, and etching. The exhibition was developed by the American Society of Botanical Artists and the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. It is part of a worldwide project.

When: Through Nov. 27. Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Where: BRIT, 1700 University Drive, Fort Worth

Cost: Free.


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