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UW Biodiversity Institute to Host Reception for Soil-Inspired Exhibition Aug. 8

August 5, 2019
circles arrayed in a circle
UW Associate Professor Diana Baumbach’s “Covering: Radial” is part of an art series that draws parallels between manufactured ground coverings, such as carpet and tile, and soil. The piece is among works from a soil-inspired exhibition on view at the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center through Oct. 9. (Diana Baumbach Photo)

The University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute will host a reception for “SOIL: The rainbow beneath,” a soil-inspired exhibition, Thursday, Aug. 8.

The reception will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Using plant and animal fiber grown and produced in Wyoming, artist Diana Baumbach and soil scientist Karen Vaughan, both UW faculty members, created woven and cut pieces inspired by and representing soil. 

The numerous intersections between paper and textiles are made visible though the exhibition: Both come from fibrous sources and are manipulated using similar processes such as cutting, weaving and dyeing.

“Both textiles and paper have strong connections to mark and notation, becoming containers for information through which we can communicate,” says Baumbach, an associate professor in the Department of Visual and Literary Arts.

Baumbach created handmade paper from soil and plant matter collected from a number of regional field sites. She then used this paper to make artwork in response to the project’s theme. Her work alludes to textiles, carpets and other floor coverings, drawing parallels to the Earth’s surface.

Vaughan created small-scale weavings that represent soil profiles, using local fibers from animals -- sheep, alpaca and bison -- that graze on plants grown in Wyoming soil.

“Soil can be a metaphor for weaving when you consider it in terms of warp -- root structures and downward movement -- and weft -- soil horizons,” says Vaughan, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

Baumbach and Vaughan funded their work with support from the UW Biodiversity Institute’s 2018 Biodiversity in Art Grant. The grant supports projects that communicate scientific information; personal and cultural responses to biological diversity; and artistic interpretation of the natural world in nontraditional, creative ways.

“SOIL: The rainbow beneath” is on view through Wednesday, Oct. 9.

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