Owls have long held a fascination for people, whether as symbols of good or evil, of wisdom, or harbingers of doom. Through a selection of works of art and interactive stations, a new exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) explores the myriad connections between people and owls and why owls look and behave the way they do. Jane Winchell, Sarah Fraser Robbins Director of PEM’s Art & Nature Center, is the curator of this exhibition.
This rich and multi-faceted exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, prints, photography, video, and decorative art. Works by 16 contemporary Massachusetts artists are included. Among them are Beverly Seamans, whose marble sculpture conveys the grandeur of the snowy owl; Larimer Richards, whose video installation explores an owl’s night vision; and Sachiko Akiyama, whose sculpture Passage evokes owls’ mystery as well as their frequent role as onlookers. In addition, eight new, original works created for this exhibition will be displayed, as well as objects from the museum’s collections of Native American, Contemporary Indian, and American Decorative art, such as a Tlingit owl amulet and an owl fan.
Complementing the works on display are interactive stations that elaborate on themes such as owls in popular culture, the life cycle, and unique characteristics. These include a “Draw an Owl” art station inspired by the sketches of Clare Walker Leslie, a “Hoot Box” listening station featuring owl hoots and owl-inspired music selections, and an “Owl Survival” ball game by Charbanova.