Ink, Internet & Identification: Catherine Hamilton as Artist & Curator

January 16 - May 15, 2011
Catherine Hamilton

Join us for a participatory exhibition that crosses boundaries of history, place and style—showing the drawings and watercolors of contemporary artist Catherine Hamilton among artworks she chose from Mass Audubon’s collection, all focused on birds and landscape.

The exhibition includes drawings from the 18th and 19th centuries, and landscape photographs by legendary ornithologist William Brewster. On view as well as well are works by some of the iconic masters of bird art: Louis Agassiz Fuertes, George Miksch Sutton, Archibald Thorburn, and Robert Verity Clem. Visitors will also see etchings by American Impressionist Frank Benson-- energetic works with the immediacy of drawings.

Catherine Hamilton says she was “pretty much born with a pencil as an extra appendage,” and grew up in the canyons and mountains of Altadena, California. Starting at an early age, through birding trips with her father, she developed a lifelong love for birds and wildlife. She left the West Coast, and any ornithological thoughts, to study in New England, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and a Master of Fine Arts from Bennington College. For six years she divided her time between working in her studio and teaching painting at RISD. That life was interrupted when she became severely ill from the chemicals she used in oil painting, and had to quit both painting and teaching. Contemplating a life without a central passion and career, she picked up a pair of binoculars that had been sitting idly in a drawer—a 30th birthday present from her father—and began walking around wildlife refuges and drawing what she saw.

Oven Birds © Catherine Hamilton
Oven Birds © Catherine Hamilton

Hamilton is currently living and working on the road, learning as much as she can about the avian world in the field and through museum collections. Along the way she is sharing her art and her encounters with birds and people through her blog, and through posts on Facebookand Twitter (all under the name, Birdspot). These social networking efforts, and some participatory elements, have been incorporated into the exhibition. Related children’s activities are available.