The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art

Ursinus College

Collegeville, PA



Remnants: Ancient Forests and City Streets


The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art will highlight "Remnants: Ancient Forests and City Streets," showcasing the work of Prilla Smith Brackett, from May 2 to July 23, 2000, An Opening Reception in honor of the artist is scheduled for Thursday, May 4, from 6- 8 p.m.

As a painter, Prilla Smith Brackett is concerned with the environment, drawing imagery inspired by the forests and landscapes of northern New England. Like Chester County artist Peter Sculthorpe, Brackett searches for deeper meanings in her compositions. Underlying the aesthetic qualities of her artwork is an educational purpose: to encourage people to reflect on their relationship with the natural world, and the issues we face as this natural world is slowly destroyed. "I present barriers and fractured images," says Brackett. "These images serve as metaphors for our abuse of the environment and for our lives so removed from the natural world." (left: Remnants: Old Growth in the White Mountains #2, ©1995, graphite, conte, charcoal on paper, 22 1/2 x 29 3/4 inches)

"Remnants" consists of four related series: "Old Growth in the White Mountains" (1995), "Big Reed Reserve" (1996-98), "Communion" (1997-98) and "Silent Striving" (1998). The installation features drawings, paintings and mixed media works, composed by Brackett using fragmentation, creating a sense of dislocation that signals our alienation from the natural world. (right: Remnants: Big Reed Reserve #7, ©1997-1998, acrylic on collaged paper and oil on canvas, 42 x 120 inches)

In her catalogue essay, art historian Ann H. Murray, explores the imagery and the complexity of the artist's composition structure. She notes that artists have become increasingly involved with affecting environmental change through their art in collaboration with scientists, engineers, conservationists and public works departments.

Brackett's compositions encourage viewers to question their relationship to a natural world facing extinction due to the irresponsible use of its resources.

"This exhibition shows work done over a three year span, from photos I took hiking to pockets of old growth forest in New Hampshire and Maine. Underlying my picture-making concerns is the mystery and feeling of the forests which initially inspired me. I am moved by the spiritual energy and sensual power of trees," says Prilla Smith Brackett. (right: Remnants: Communion #13, ©1988, oil on collaged canvas and canvas, 42 x 120 inches in two panels)

An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition with essays by Ann H. Murray, professor of art history and director of the Watson Gallery at Wheaten College, and Gene E. Likens, ecologist and director of the Institute of Ecosystem Sites in Millbrook, NY.


Editor's note: Resource Library readers may also enjoy recent photographic images of the White Mountains.

Read more about the Berman Museum of Art in Resource Library.

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