Call of the Wild Magazine | 2015–16 his evolving installation tells the stories of animals that have either benefited from conservation efforts or are in need of assistance for their continued survival. In its current iteration, the gallery highlights the bison and pronghorn as examples of animals that have rebounded from near extinction to sustainable levels, while also presenting artwork depicting tigers, lions, elephants and polar bears—creatures that are currently in danger of being lost forever in the wild. A centerpiece of the exhibit is Steve Kestrel’s Silent Messenger. This sculpture asks us to confront our own role in the possible extinction or salvation of species in need. Kestrel wrote of his work, “Most often in my work I celebrate the earth’s fauna and flora, but with this piece I mourn the destruction and degradation of ecosystems worldwide and the tragic loss of unique animal species. The raven is frequently admired by contemporary man for a variety of personal reasons, and as an icon is metaphorically associated with nature and ancient creation myths. The red sandstone sarcophagus is hewn from the earth by the hand of man, and symbolizes the quest for dominance and control over the natural world. In the next century, will our societies and artists celebrate the remaining wildlife—and mourn their passing?” Juxtaposed with Silent Messenger is Gwynn Murrill’s Tiger 2, which also asks us to think about our relationship with animals, but in a slightly different way. Recently donated to the Museum by generous patron, Dr. Lee Lenz, Murrill’s Tiger 2 is posed on a pedestal reminiscent of a circus podium. In an era when there are more tigers in captivity in the United States than exist in the wild, Murrill’s work asks us to think about the current state of the species and its potential future. In fifty years, will tigers, lions, elephants and polar bears only exist in zoos, circuses, or private collections? Will there be no populations left in the wild? Both Silent Messenger and Tiger 2 ask us to think about the future of wildlife. A new, interactive element in the Conservation Gallery will prompt visitors to offer their own responses. Sugden Family Curator of Education and Exhibits, Jane Lavino notes, “The gallery interactive will ask visitors to think about the power of art as a catalyst for change and a call to action. Visitors will share what they have seen to be effective in the past, and imagine what artists might strive for in the future.” 41 T THE CONSERVATION G ALLERY A Conservation Art Showcase By Adam D. Harris, Ph.D., Petersen Curator of Art and Research (BOTTOM) Gwynn Murrill (American, born 1942), Tiger 2, 2012 – 2013. Bronze. 42 x 62 x 31 inches. Dr. Lee W. Lenz, National Museum of Wildlife Art. © Gwynn Murrill. (TOP) Steve Kestrel (American, born 1947), Silent Messenger, 2005. Wyoming black granite, Colorado sandstone, steel. 42 x 72 x 78 inches. National Museum of Wildlife Art. © Steve Kestrel.
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