With a naturalist's eye and an artist's hand, Suzanne Stryk usually finds inspiration in the great outdoors, but for her Genomes and Daily Observations installation at the Morris Museum of Art, she decided to look inside.
The environmental display uses the specimen jars and sketches of the classic naturalist to explore the idea of the old artist sketching birds in the wild colliding with an understanding of modern science.
"My consciousness was that of an old-fashioned naturalist combining with a contemporary understanding of the genome," she said in a recent telephone interview. "It really is a collision of old and new."
The piece, which confronts the duality of her interest in art and the science of the natural world, includes much of her art, a mirror etched with DNA code and a desk that Charles Darwin might have felt comfortable at. Ms. Stryk said the project stems from a desire to make context for her drawings as important as the drawings themselves.
"When I began these drawings, I was putting them up in my studio," she said. "In doing that, I found that experience, that process, was very important. Just putting it in a frame couldn't convey that."
The artist, who works in series and conceptual sets, said Genome was the rare occasion when she could draw anything that caught her fancy.
"I really let the things come to me," she said. "When the toads were mating in the local swamp, I drew toads. More recently, I did chipmunks. Really, this feels like the series I could do for the rest of my life."
Ms. Stryk's work is usually quite contemporary, with a graphic and modern take on representations of the natural world. She said working on the mock history of Genomes allowed her to explore our culture's fascination with moving forward and looking back.
"I think it's something we all do," she said. "It's part of our contemporary consciousness. We are all, always, straddling both the old and new."
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT: Genomes and Daily Observations
WHEN: Saturday-Aug. 26; museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: The Morris Museum of Art, 1 10th St.
COST: $5 general, $3 students, seniors and military; free for children younger than 6 with an adult; free admission Sundays; (706) 724-7501, or www.themorris.org