Nature Inspires Art as Stryk Inspires Naturalists

“Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature.” Cicero

Art is a key component of Blue Ridge Discovery Center’s approach to discovery. Art provides each of us - regardless of perceived ability - with the opportunity to observe closely, to ask questions, and communicate our findings. In other words, it allows us to explore, discover, and share.

One member of our community, Suzanne Stryk, has devoted a great deal of time to the observation and investigation of nature, communicating her findings through sketches, paintings, and assemblages. During the June session of “Lunch and Learn” at the William King Museum of Art, Stryk demonstrated the process she uses to create nature-inspired assemblages. These 3-dimensional mixed media pieces may describe the life history of a species, plant and animal communities, or how these species interact with their environment.

Assemblage artist Suzanne Stryk displays  Back to the Garden  during WKMA’s June “Lunch and Learn”

Assemblage artist Suzanne Stryk displays Back to the Garden during WKMA’s June “Lunch and Learn”

In 2011, Stryk received a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts to document the five ecological regions of Virginia. This allowed Stryk to immerse herself in natural habitats across the state and to create twenty-six assemblages of her findings. Together, these works make up Stryk’s collection, Notes on the State of Virginia, inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s book of the same name published in 1785.

In Back to the Garden (pictured), Stryk uses a topographic map, pencil, plants, bark, and paint and plant stains on paper to communicate the biological community of Burke’s Garden, Virginia’s highest valley, where Blue Ridge Discovery Center leads a birding event each winter.

Watercolor of a metamorphosing tadpole in Stryk’s sketchbook based on field observations

Watercolor of a metamorphosing tadpole in Stryk’s sketchbook based on field observations

Part of Stryk’s process involves keeping a sketchbook, in which she utilizes ink, watercolor, and even coffee to render observations. This August, Stryk will share her sketchbook techniques with the Blue Ridge Discovery Center community during the Summer Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally. Stryk’s afternoon program on Saturday, August 17th, Nature Art, will teach you how to enhance your observational skills and record your experiences in nature through experimentation with quick sketches as well as more sustained studies. Bring your sketchbook, pencils or pens, and camp stool to take advantage of this opportunity!

To view more of Suzanne Stryk’s work and to learn more about her background and exhibitions, Visit Her Website.

To Join us for the Summer Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally August 16th-18th in Konnarock, VA, Register Online.

Layers (Darner)  by Suzanne Stryk, 2015, mixed media on plexiglass and mirror

Layers (Darner) by Suzanne Stryk, 2015, mixed media on plexiglass and mirror

Vanitas with Audubon’s Cuckoo  by Suzanne Stryk, 2016, acrylic on canvas

Vanitas with Audubon’s Cuckoo by Suzanne Stryk, 2016, acrylic on canvas

Field Work Series #11  by Suzanne Stryk, 2008, mixed media on paper

Field Work Series #11 by Suzanne Stryk, 2008, mixed media on paper