AIR at 40: Announcing Bernheim’s 2020 Artists in Residence

By Jenny Zeller

In this time of uncertainty, what is certain is the vital role women contribute to our daily lives and throughout America’s history! Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest embraces Ecofeminism, drawing on the concept of gender to analyze the relationship between humans and the natural world. In celebration of Women’s History month, the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement and the 40th anniversary of Bernheim’s Artist in Residence program, it is an honor to announce our 2020 Artists in Residence! All of the selected artists are women who channel nature as their muse, but in a variety of mediums and processes, speaking to Bernheim’s mission of connecting people with nature in new and exciting ways.

Bernheim is currently researching ways to bring the work and creative practice of these artists to you through a variety of virtual art experiences in a time of social distancing. Stay tuned for more!


2020 Regional Artist in Residence Lucy Azubuike.
‘Use Your Mind’s Eye and Your Head’s Eye’, captured on Switzer Road in Frankfort, KY, by Lucy Azubuike.

Please join me in congratulating Bernheim’s Regional Artist in Residence, multi-disciplinary artist Lucy Azubuike, from Frankfort, KY. Azubuike’s mission is to teach people how to find joy in the simple available forms in nature while also sharing personal stories steeped in the proverb rice Nigerian Igbo culture. Azubuike will include Bernheim in a lifelong project of documenting figurative tree images that intends to expose the magic in nature as well as the worlds common humanity. She recently completed both an artist residency and an installation at Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort, KY. Prior to moving to Kentucky, Azubuike has shown her work on national and international level with shows in New York, Amsterdam, London, Nigeria and South Africa.

Azubuike will come to Bernheim on mutiple visits in the upcoming seasons. During these sessions, she plans to lead photo workshops and arboretum walks showcasing her figurative tree findings. We look forward to seeing the forest through her eyes!



2020 Artist in Residence Lee Emma Running.
Running installing work at the Iowa State Capitol building.

Lee Emma Running is a sculptor and installation artist as well as Professor of studio art at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Her visual art embraces the beauty and complexity of the natural world. Guided by the direct observation and manipulation of organic material, her sculptures, installations, and performance work are deeply connected to place. Running arrived at Bernheim in early March and while her initial immersion in the Bernheim landscape was cut short due to current global circumstances, it was long on inspiration. During her time at Bernheim, Running became enthralled with the American sycamore tree, one that symbolizes strength and protection as well as an indication of waterways in dense woods.

When Running is able to return, we look forward to the creation of two meditations on this ancient tree. Sycamore Hatch and Sycamore Haven will be a paired experience of the American sycamore for the adventurous visitor to Bernheim. Sycamore Hatch is a site-specific, transparent, colorful window installation at Bernheim Visitor Center using the unique structure of budding sycamore leaves as inspiration. Sycamore Haven will be an interactive sculpture occupying the inside of a hollow sycamore on the Elm Lick trail river crossing in the Bernheim Forest. Running hopes that her installation in the Visitor Center will also draw visitors out into the wonder of the woods, providing a special reward to those who make the trek.

In the last year, Running has completed two major projects using botanical samples from historic herbariums to create large-scale window installations, most notably in the Governor’s Office at the Iowa State Capitol. Running was awarded the 2017 Iowa Artist Fellowship by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has completed recent Artist In Residences at Ucross, the Morgan Conservatory, Jentel, and the Santa Fe Art Institute.


2020 Artist in Residence Gabriella Boros.

Gabriella Boros is a drawer, printmaker, and photographer from Skokie, IL.  Boros’ project, entitled FEMMEnomenal Bluegrass Botanicals, is a series of woodblock prints that celebrate ten Kentucky women whose spirits are invoked by ten Kentucky plants. These prints will be enlarged onto fabric banners and suspended from trees throughout the arboretum. The native plants have been carefully selected to reflect both the personality and the contribution of these remarkable women. By scattering the banners throughout the landscape, Boros will create a treasure hunt that appeals to all ages and also has historical importance.

FEMMEnomenal Bluegrass Botanicals celebrates and highlights 10 historically significant Kentucky women who, despite adversity and the social climate in which they lived, surmounted the odds to accomplish great things, creating social change in the process. Bernheim hopes Boros’ work will build confidence in young Kentucky girls and women to understand the collective value women have had on our history and like the native plants in Kentucky, despite all the challenges, are still here, standing tall and beautiful, each in their own way.

Gabriella Boros’ ‘Mother Trees’ from the series Tree Communities.

Boros’ FEMMEnomenal Bluegrass Botanicals, will commemorate:

    1. SARA “SADIE” FRANCES PRICE (Warren County, 1849-1903) A nationally known botanist, Price discovered numerous rare plants and is credited with classifying much of Kentucky’s flora. Wild Ginger (Asarum Canadense)
    2. AMANDA URI BERNHEIM (McCracken County, 1854 – 1922) A nature and arts advocate who championed for art in the forest at Bernheim. Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus)
    3. FLORENCE BRANDEIS (Jefferson County, 1861-1941) One of Louisville’s first women physicians and member of both the Woman’s Club of Louisville and of the Woman Suffrage Association of Louisville. Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis acuta)
    4. SALLY SHALLENBERGER BROWN (Jefferson County, 1911-2011) An early advocate for the environment and environmental preservation. American Yellowwood Tree (Cladastris kentukea)
    5. WILLA BEATRICE BROWN (Barren County, 1906-1992) The first African American woman to be licensed to fly in the United States. Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) 
    6. ALICE ALLISON DUNNIGAN (Logan County, 1906-1983) An internationally-known journalist, civil rights activist and author. Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor)
    7. JEAN RITCHIE (Perry County, 1922- 2015) A musician, author and preserver of Appalachian lore. Paw Paw Tree (Asimina trilobal)
    8. GRACE MARILYNN JAMES (Jefferson County, 1923-1989) A pediatrician and the first African American woman on the faculty of University of Louisville School of Medicine who helped to change the face of medicine in Kentucky. Harbinger of Spring (Erigenia bulbosa)
    9. SUZY (SUZANNE) POST (Jefferson County, 1933-2019) An award-winning civil rights activist in the struggle against discrimination and social injustice in Kentucky. Jacob’s Ladder (Polemomuim Reptans)
    10. JUDI JANE CONWAY PATTON (Pike County, 1940- ) An activist of Cherokee ancestry who focuses on women’s safety and child abuse prevention. Guyandotte Beauty (Synandra hispidula)


Bernheim is currently researching ways to bring the work and creative practice of these artists to you through a variety of virtual art experiences in a time of social distancing. Stay tuned for more!


2020 marks the 40th anniversary of Bernheim’s Artist in Residence program. Established in 1980, this internationally renowned program annually awards artists the opportunity to live and create site-specific work inspired by their total immersion experience at Bernheim. Throughout 2020, we are celebrating the contributions of the program’s past that has allowed our visitors to experience nature in a new way while enhancing awareness of Bernheim’s mission of connecting people to nature.

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