LSU Museum of Art to Host Margaret Stones’ “Flora of Louisiana: The Baton Rouge Connection” Exhibit April 4-August 3
BATON ROUGE – The LSU Museum of Art, located on the fifth floor of the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette St., Baton Rouge, will feature Margaret Stones’ “Flora of Louisiana: The Baton Rouge Connection” exhibit, beginning April 4 and running through Aug. 3.
Stones is ranked among the 20th century’s most accomplished botanical artists. In 1976, she was commissioned to create watercolor drawings of Louisiana native flora as a material legacy of LSU’s bicentennial celebration.
The Australian-born botanical painter drew from plant specimens collected in East Baton Rouge Parish, and the exhibition features 55 watercolors as well as the names of the people who collected them for her. All the works are drawn from LSU Libraries’ Special Collections Division, located within Hill Memorial Library.
The exhibition offers a glimpse of Stones’ working process, from depicting details of plants, to creating finished, scientifically accurate drawings of whole specimens. Almost 40 years later, the exhibit also highlights how the collaborative efforts of individuals in East Baton Rouge helped to create an artistic treasure for Louisiana.
Lowell Urbatsch, a professor in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences, was recruited as the exhibit’s chief botanical advisor, and dozens of people from all across the state and throughout LSU participated in bringing the artist from London to Baton Rouge to create these paintings on site.
Randy Harelson, a horticulturist, artist and LSU graduate, has organized the exhibition, which examines the wealth of flora in East Baton Rouge as well as the individuals who helped realize this major commission.
“Baton Rouge folks got the ‘Flora of Louisiana’ project started, then built up steam as Ms. Stones began to create the drawings,” Harelson said. “The project began as a commission for six botanical illustrations and led to a complete portfolio of more than 220 finished works. The 55 botanicals in this exhibit are ones that were drawn from plant specimens collected in East Baton Rouge Parish.”
Born in Colac, Victoria, Australia in 1920, Stones attended art school and botany classes in Melbourne and held a number of exhibitions. After World War II, she left for England, hoping to work as a freelance botanical artist.
“I set off, with no prospects at all,” she said in an episode of “Gardening Australia,” an Australian Broadcasting Corporation program. “I took a one-way ticket for 95 pounds, and 100 pounds to live on. I got some work at Kew drawing from dried herbarium specimens. That’s a wonderful beginning for botanical artists because you have to work on the anatomy of different plants.”
Stones said she first drew an impression to get the design of the specimen before recreating it on good drawing paper.
“I work very quickly while the plant is alive and I don’t go back later in the year and finish it, so I must work quickly,” she said. “I’m always thrilled when I start a flower because it’s a new experience and I never grow tired of the flowers.”
Stones established a firm reputation as one of the finest botanical artists of the century, working as the principal contributing artist to Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, the longest running botanical periodical in the world, and producing works on private commission.
In conjunction with Stones’ exhibition, the LSU Museum of Art and Hilltop Arboretum will present a walking tour to examine plant specimens that inspired the artist’s remarkable work. The Museum of Art will organize a special Mother’s Day Tea on Sunday, May 11, where participants can enjoy lunch, a tour of the exhibition and a hands-on water coloring activity to bring home. Call 225-389-7206 for more information.
The LSU Museum of Art will also present a series of exciting educational programs including lectures, gallery talks, art making workshops and interactive school tours for all ages, designed to further explore the exhibition. For more information or to schedule a tour, please contact Lucy Perera, LSU Museum of Art coordinator of school and community programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 225-389-7207.
The Stones exhibition is sponsored by donations from many Flora of Louisiana supporters, and through the collaborative work of the LSU Libraries, LSU Museum of Art and the Baton Rouge community.
General admission to the LSU Museum of Art is $5 each for adults and children age 13 and over. Admission is free to university faculty, staff, and students with ID, children age 12 and under, and museum members. Hours of operation are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.lsumoa.com or call 225-389-7200.
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LSU Museum of Art
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