Science and art take flight in virtual talk

The Brenau community learned about the relationship between art and science thanks to “The Evolution of Scientific Bird Art with Dr. Michael Stubblefield,” a virtual event held in October.

Stubblefield, an avid nature photographer and art collector, presented some images from his art collection depicting the natural world and, more specifically, birds. Originally scheduled to be an exhibition held in Sellars Gallery of the Simmons Visual Arts Center, the presentation shifted to a virtual format due to COVID-19 and drew nearly 300 viewers.

Dr. Michael Stubblefield

“Doing things like this presentation,” Stubblefield says, “sharing my love of this and why I get totally nerded out on photography, birds and art collecting, and the fact that people are willing to show up and hear me out and spend an hour with me is really just wonderful.”

Image of birds attacking rattlesnake in branches.
Detail of Mockingbird Plate 21 by James Audubon

Brenau’s Permanent Art Collection via the Arader Natural History Art Fund has been able to grow due to Stubblefield and his wife, Elyn, who provided funding for the purchase of numerous botanical prints. In late 2018, Brenau started the Arader Arts and Science Collaborative to “enhance the bridge between artistic creativity and scientific exploration by providing students with access to a variety of natural history print,” says Didi Cassell, Arader curriculum faculty coordinator and instructor in the Department of Math and Science.

The Stubblefields have a collection of well over 100,000 images that include hundreds of species of birds, mammals and fish. While not an art historian, Michael Stubblefield says he gained much of his art knowledge by collecting and reading. During his presentation, he showed art from as early as the 1700s, when artists had very limited knowledge of birds and the natural world, to present times. As part of the talk, he gave historical background on the pieces as well as the artists who created them.

In addition to his photography and writing, Stubblefield serves as medical director of cancer rehabilitation at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey, and national medical director for Select Medical’s ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation Program in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

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