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Dinosaurs, exotic animals at Shafer Gallery exhibit
Artwork by Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen; show produced by David J. Wagner L.L.C.

The Shafer Art Gallery’s latest exhibit is “Biodiversity in the Art of Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen,” produced by David J. Wagner L.L.C. It is the latest installment of The CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions Art and Science Encounter Series. The exhibit opened Friday, March 1 and will continue through April 18, with a public reception to kick off the exhibit at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 8. 

Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen is a painter of Dutch descent, who explores the rich diversity of the natural world from a unique perspective. His artistic mission is to deepen awareness of the natural world and how it functions. His work has been exhibited in museums on five continents, including the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History, the British Museum and the National Museum of History in Taiwan, and his solo exhibition has been touring museums across the U.S. since 2003. He has been awarded the coveted Society of Animal Artists’ Award of Excellence eight times and he has illustrated over a dozen books and authored the book Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding.

Shafer Gallery Director Dave Barnes said the CUNA Mutual Art and Science Encounter Series is all about making connections.

“As the name of this year’s program states, we live in a connected world,” he said. “We have been lucky the past few years to find exceptional artists to present work that dramatically illustrates the relationship between creative expression and the creative process of investigating our natural world. The exhibiting artist this year fulfills this mission in a world class way.”

“As a visual artist, I’m concerned with form, but as a naturalist it’s function that fascinates me, and my work explores the relationship between the two,” van Kempen wrote In a statement about the work. “When I select a subject, I typically try to find a way to display as articulately as I can the qualities that make that species unique, and how those qualities function in an ecological setting. Every technical aspect of the painting – composition, palette, scale, etc., hopefully serve to emphasize this point. As human impact on the natural world increases, our routine awareness of that world and our active participation in its processes diminish. But whether it’s visible to us or not, our lives are irrevocably dovetailed into the vibrating matrix of nature.”

On March 10 the CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions Arts and Sciences Encounters Series in partnership with the Kansas Wetlands Educational Center will host a bio-diversity talk by popular speaker Bob Gress. The talk, titled “The Birds of Columbia,” will be held at 2 p.m. at the Wetlands Center. 

The Shafer Gallery will be the location of the Arts and Science Encounter Family Day on April 6. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will include crafts, science activities and refreshments.