“Underneath Them Steady Air: Bird Paintings of Judy Cotton and Michael Di Giorgio”
Opening Reception on July 27, 5 - 7 pm
Guest Curator: Lowery Stokes Sims
Exhibition on view July 27 - August 16, 2017

Curated by Lowery Stokes Sims, this exhibition features bird paintings by two Connecticut-based painters, Judy Cotton and Michael DiGiorgio. Based on direct observation and memory, these compositions show the artists’ shared appreciation of the beauty of the birds as well as their shared concern for the fate of these species as they are impacted by environmental changes and human activity. Illustrations created by both artists for field guides will also be on view as well as on-site and studio studies that illuminate their image-making process. This exhibition and lecture are made possible, in part, by a generous grant from the Robert F. Schumann Foundation.

About the Artists
Judy Cotton
Cotton is an internationally recognized artist who has had 35 solo shows and participated in over 70 group exhibits. She has shown work in the United States, Australia, the U.K., Japan, South Korea and China. Her work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Phillips Gallery, the National Gallery of Australia, The New Britain Museum of American Art, the Florence Griswold Museum, The Bathurst Regional Gallery and numerous private collections. A ten-year survey of her work traveled in NSW in Australia in 2002-2003.

The Pulitzer prize winning art critic Sebastian Smee has described Cotton as “a passionate observer of the natural world, both in the wilds of America and in her native Australia…. Cotton has long been drawn to the lives and movement of animals, plants, fires, floods, rivers and skies - to life in flux.”

Cotton is known for work in various media including encaustic. Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims described her Swimmer series as “miraculous puddles of wax….(that) mediate abstraction and realism as they capture the visual dissolution of form seen underwater.”

Born in Australia in 1941, Cotton has lived and worked in the U.S. since 1971. She began to live in Lyme full-time beside the Connecticut river in 2008. The constant presence of this body of water - fast moving through most of the year, frozen solid in winter - has influenced and informed her work in different contexts and media.

From 1974 to 1993 Cotton was the New York Contributing Editor for Vogue Australia covering New York, the art world and writing profiles of important cultural figures like Tennessee Williams and Oliver Sacks. She has served on the board of the Lyme Disease Foundation and on the board of the American Friends of the National Gallery of Australia.

Michael DiGiorgio
Michael DiGiorgio is a nationally recognized artist who is currently living in Madison, CT. Mike’s painting and drawings have appeared in a variety of nature books and journals, such as: Birds of Brazil vol. 1&2, birds of Honduras, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Breeding Bird Atlas of CT, New York State Breeding Bird Atlas, Audubon Field Guide to Birds/ Eastern and Western region, and The Narrow Edge by Deborah Cramer.From 2007 to 2012, Mike was contracted by Houghton Mifflin to completely revise the artwork for the new edition of Peterson Field Guide to the Birds.Having painted birds since the age of five, Mike began to study bird painting from the late Don Eckelberry in 1979. Under Don’s critical eye, Mike developed his style emphasizing the character of the bird as well as its relationship to the environment. Working outdoors has provided him with knowledge of natural light, atmosphere, and design.
Committed to painting from life, Mike has traveled extensively to create field sketches of bird, plants, and habitat from South America, Central America, the West Indies, Trinidad, and the Outer Islands of Britain. In addition, his numerous trips to the western United States and national parks have allowed Mike to record a full range of American birdlife.
Mike won the first ever Eckelberry endowment award from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia for recognition of his Bird Illustration work. This award was given in memory of Don Eckelberry. Mike’s paintings have been exhibited at the Roger tory Peterson Institute, Jamestown, N.Y.; The Bennington Center for the Arts, Bennington, VT; Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, WI; and The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, PA. and The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y. Mike is currently illustrating plates for Birds of South America vol.3 with Robert Ridgley and Guy Tudor, and updating Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds with new illustrations of birds from Hawaii.

Lowery Stokes Sims
A specialist in modern and contemporary art, craft and design Lowery Stokes Sims, PhD, retired as Curator Emerita from the Museum of Arts and Design, New York in 2015 where she served as the Charles Bronfman International Curator and the William and Mildred Ladson Chief Curator. Sims served on the education and curatorial staff of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1972-1999) and as executive director, president and adjunct curator for the permanent collection at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2000-2007). At the Museum of Arts and Design Sims co-curated Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary (2008) and Dead or Alive: Artists Respond to Nature (2010), curated Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design (2012) and also conceived and co-curated The Global Africa Project (2010-11) and New Territories: Laboratories for Design, Craft and Art in Latin America (2014). She is currently serving as a guest curator for exhibitions at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, the McNay Art Museum, Grounds for Sculpture, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles and the Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati.

Sims has lectured and guest curated exhibitions nationally and internationally. She was Visiting Professor at Queens College and Hunter College, New York City (2005, 2006), a fellow at the Clark Art Institute and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota (2007) and Distinguished Professor in the Claire Trevor School of Arts, University of California, Irvine in 2014. Sims also served on the selection jury for the World Trade Center memorial (2003-2004) and is a founding board member of ArtTable, Inc. She serves on the boards of the Tiffany Foundation and Art Matters, Inc.

Related Lecture

Artist Lecture by Lowery Stokes Sims, Guest Curator
Thursday, July 27, 7 pm. | $15
Click here for more details.

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