Art piece by Kelsey Gibson, based on the pressed plants in the UTEP Biodiversity Collections Herbarium | Photo by Katherine Barba
On Thursday, September 9th, the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at the University of Texas at El Paso will bring student art and historical plant collections to life in the exhibition, “Where We Will Grow: Elsie Slater, Plants and Art”.
The plant collections were made by Elsie Slater, a local self-taught biologist, teacher, artist, and writer who documented the natural history of El Paso in the early 1900s. Slater shared her findings and love for plants through both scientific and artistic approaches.
Her work included newspaper articles for the El Paso Herald-Post, three books, over 200 pressed plants, and various art pieces.
“Elsie’s work is lyrical and relatable.” Biodiversity Collections Curatorial Assistant and Exhibition Curator Muriel Norman says “It’s not just for the scientific community. She made scientific illustrations and more artistic paintings of plants.”
Inspired by Slater’s work in different media, Biodiversity Collections Manager Dr. Vicky Zhuang worked with professor Nabil Gonzalez and her class to create pieces based on the Slater Plant Collection and the plants of El Paso.
Visitors will see plants from diverse perspectives in this exhibit that features six unique pieces arranged alongside Elsie’s specimens.
Accompanying these pieces are Elsie’s watercolor sketches, field notes, and writings provided by the Biodiversity Collections, Centennial Museum, and the C. L. Sonnichsen Special Collections.
The exhibit also includes a self-guided tour of the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, exploring the same species Slater collected during her lifetime.
This exhibition is made possible in part by the Inspire! Grants for Small Museums program from the Institute of Museums and Library Services and the Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections program from the National Science Foundation to Dr. Michael L. Moody, Dr. Vicky Zhuang, and Dr. Eli Greenbaum, faculty curators and staff of the UTEP Biodiversity Collections.
This exhibition will be available to the public from September 9th, 2021 to January 15th, 2022. The opening reception is on September 9th from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.
For more information about viewing hours or to arrange group visits, contact Claudia Ley, Education Curator at 915-747-8994.