Exhibit explores relationship between humans, nature

Local artist Arlene Braithwaite said she doesn’t want her new exhibit at the Utah Museum of Natural History to be “just a bunch of paintings on the wall”; she wants it to be a “doorway to nature.”

The exhibit, titled “Human Nature: Insights from the Natural World,” will be on display at the museum from Feb. 4 to April 26.

“The exhibit was never meant to be about the paintings on the wall or me as an artist; it’s about the idea that humans can learn a lot from close observation of nature,” Braithwaite said.

The 29 pieces showcased in the exhibit depict nature scenes that serve as metaphors for human behavior and experiences, Braithwaite said.

“I see humans as animals, too?so I looked at animals to learn things about human nature,” she added.

An example of one of these metaphors is in the piece “Clustering Ladybug Beetles,” of which Braithwaite said the beetles cooperating to survive reminded her of humans.

“It started me thinking about how much slimmer the chance for survival would be for all life forms ‘without a little help from our friends’,” she said.

Braithwaite said the way the exhibit was designed will make the experience more enlightening for visitors. The exhibit features an educational area and music designed to coincide with the pictures.

“Education through nature is a big part of Arlene’s philosophy, so we wanted to incorporate that into the exhibit,” Dawn Reneefarkas, an exhibit designer for the museum, said.

Overall the exhibit will bring people closer to the natural world, said Darrell Kirby, a public relations associate for the museum.

“Part of the mission of the museum is to illuminate the natural world and the role of humans within it. This exhibit is going to do that,” he said.

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