Dual-gallery exhibition at UNE highlights role of plants in the imagination

An oil painting of plants and herbs by Tessa Greene O'Brien
Tessa Greene O’Brien. "Big Dill" (detail). Oil on canvas over panel. 60"x60." 2023.

The University of New England will present “Seeking Light: Plants from Shoreline to Canopy in the Arts and Sciences,” a special two-part exhibition taking place at the University’s art galleries in Biddeford and Portland in October.

“Seeking Light” highlights the role of plants in the environment and in the creative imagination. The exhibit aims to illuminate the importance and power of plants from a wide range of viewpoints, opening the imaginations of visitors to new poetic and empirical approaches to this universal subject.

Plants are a primary source of subject matter for many artists, said Hilary Irons, director of Galleries and Exhibitions at UNE. As such, she said, they provide a rich and varied visual stimulus paired with a narrative of growth, ascension, and decay.

“Scientists hone their understanding of ecosystems and environmental interdependence through close study of plants and trees,” Irons remarked. “‘Seeking Light’ explores a variety of approaches to picturing and deconstructing the plant, from the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean to the top of the forest canopy. Information graphics from UNE’s scientific work with trees provides insight, offering an analytic perspective on their role in our environment.”

The exhibit will debut at the UNE Art Gallery in Biddeford on Thursday, Oct. 12, with a reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Artists in the Biddeford exhibition include Stephen Burt, Karen Gelardi, Rebecca Goodale, Gretchen Halpert, Evelyn Hudson, and Raquel Miller.

The exhibit’s second installment, featuring a new slate of artists, will open at the Art Gallery on UNE’s Portland Campus on Friday, Oct. 27. An opening reception will be held on Oct. 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. Artists featured include Jennifer Brou, Chip Barchilon, Luke Davulis, Breehan James, John Knight, Jocelyn Lee, Jim Mullen, Tessa Greene O’Brien, Christopher Patch, and John Sundling.

The UNE Art Gallery in Biddeford is located within the Jack S. Ketchum Library at 11 Hills Beach Road and is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The Art Gallery in Portland is located at 716 Stevens Ave. and is open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. or by appointment.

A section of a woodblock print by Rebecca Goodale entitled "Sumac"

Rebecca Goodale, "Sumac" (detail).

An oil painting of plants and herbs by Tessa Greene O'Brien

Tessa Greene O’Brien, “Big Dill”