The works in this show are drawn from mounts in the zoological collections of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Each of the drawings was made at the museum, drawn directly onto the paper with silverpoint, using magnifying glasses and strong light. This show features about half of the works made over a dozen visits during the last year. Many thanks to Emily Braker and Jeff Stephenson, the Collection Managers of these institutions.
At first I drew many different specimens – insects, small mammals, shells, skeletons – then I became fascinated by the jewel-like mounts of small birds I saw on the shelves of the collections, and I started asking to see mounts of birds I encountered while walking outside. I found that during my first few visits, I was able just to concentrate on drawing the head of the bird, then over subsequent visits I continued to make “portraits” from the mounts to form a series of works, the drawings in this exhibition.
Silverpoint is a medieval drawing medium that uses a silver stylus to make marks on specially-prepared papers. Characteristic of silverpoint is that it is difficult to correct, and over time the silver will tarnish giving the drawing a warm, dark patina. Rarely seen since the Renaissance, silverpoint enjoyed a brief revival in Victorian England and is now more widely practiced in America. The very first historical exhibition of silverpoint drawing is being held this Summer at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.