Science Museum Hosts Mam-moth Exhibition
Show Features Virginia Artist’s Large-Scale Paintings of Moths and Highlights Their Important Role as Pollinators
The Science Museum of Virginia is opening a new art exhibition called “Night Pollinators” on Friday, Jan. 12. The show features more than a dozen 30 inch by 40 inch acrylic paintings of moth species that live in central Virginia created by Deborah Davis. Twelve of the highly detailed and anatomically accurate pieces of art were produced specifically for this exhibition and have never before been publically displayed.
“Mothing has been a hobby of mine since I was a 10-year-old girl wandering around Forest Hill Park in the 1960s,” said Davis. “About seven years ago I decided to combine my interest in moths with my schooling in art and profession as a sustainable gardener to create portraits of these interesting and important creatures. Showing each moth completely still in a natural pose in a large format helps people see the beauty of these insects.”
Davis, a Richmond native, now lives in North Garden just outside of Charlottesville. After studying art at Virginia Commonwealth University, she worked in a camera store for several years while pursuing her photography hobby. For the last two decades, Davis has earned her living as a gardener focused on sustainable landscaping and native planting techniques.
About seven years ago Davis took up painting again. Currently she only creates moth artwork from subjects she gathers using a sheet and black light in her backyard. After she catches a new species (she rarely repeats painting the same moth), she photographs it and then paints from the photo.
“Moths translate beautifully on canvas, and with more than 1,000 moth species in the central Virginia area, she will not run out of inspiration any time soon,” said Dr. Eugene Maurakis, the Museum’s chief scientist. “Featuring Deborah’s paintings not only allows us to show how science concepts can be translated through art, but also provides the perfect kickoff to our first full year with the new Pollinator Garden at the Museum.”
Pollinators consist of bird, bee, moth and other insect species that help crops and trees produce fruits, vegetables and herbs. Without pollinators, much of the food we consume would not be available at farmer’s markets and grocery stores. With grant support from Dominion Energy, the Museum created the Pollinator Garden to contribute to its surrounding environment, expand its environmentally-focused experiences and encourage guests to explore planting pollinator gardens at home. Installed in October 2017, the more than 500 native plants contained in the garden will start to thrive this spring.
“I’m pleased and amazed that people are so interested in my art,” Davis said. “But, just like the Museum’s efforts to heighten visitor awareness, what I really hope I can show guests through this exhibition is how ecosystems are connected. It’s just as important to me that people think about moths in the environment, observe them at home and maybe even be inspired to try to attract them to their yard as it is for them to enjoy looking at the paintings.”
The “Night Pollinators” exhibition is on display at the Museum until March 11. It is included with Museum admission.
In conjunction with the show, Davis will be giving a Lunch Break Science talk on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at noon. In her “Why Moths?” presentation she will explain her art, mothing as a hobby and the importance of moths to ecosystems, as well as provide some tips on how attendees can encourage wildlife in their areas. All Museum Lunch Break Science talks are free and open to the public.
About the Science Museum of Virginia
The mission of the Science Museum of Virginia is to inspire Virginians to enrich their lives through science. Through hundreds of experiential exhibits, awe-inspiring artifacts and interactive technologies, the Museum presents dynamic science programming to hundreds of thousands of guests each year. The Richmond-based museum is home to three floors of interactive exhibits, The Dome theater – the largest movie screen in Virginia – and proudly hosts dynamic traveling exhibitions from around the world. Learn more at www.smv.org.
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