AIR at 40: FEMMEnomenal Bluegrass Botanicals with 2020 Bernheim Artist in Residence, Gabriella Boros

By Jenny Zeller

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Artist in Residence Program and Kentucky Women’s Suffrage Centennial in 2020, Bernheim presents FEMMEnomenal Bluegrass Botanicals by Gabriella Boros. This exhibition celebrates the extraordinary achievements of 10 Kentucky women through the invocation of 10 native Kentucky plants.

While in residence at Bernheim, Boros created a series of woodblock prints that celebrate these notable Kentucky women. The prints, enlarged into fabric hangings, are suspended from trees along Lake Nevin Loop. Each banner has a written explanation situated nearby about the woman, the plant and the relationship between the two.

2020 marks the 40th anniversary of Bernheim’s Artist in Residence program. Established in 1980, this program annually awards artists the opportunity to live and create site-specific work inspired by their total immersion experience at Bernheim. These artists help celebrate Bernheim’s mission of connecting people with nature in new and exciting ways.

FEMMEnomenal Bluegrass Botanicals celebrates the collective value women have had on our history, and much like the native plants in Kentucky, despite all the challenges, are still here, standing tall and beautiful, each in their own way.

FEMMEnomenal Women and their corresponding plants:

  • Sadie Price, renowned botanist; Price’s Groundnut and Tufted Yellow Woodsorrel
  • Amanda Bernheim, nature and arts advocate; Kentucky Coffeetree
  • Florence Brandeis, physician, feminist, suffragette; Liverleaf
  • Sally Shallenberger Brown, environmentalist; American Yellowwood Tree
  • Willa Beatrice Brown, first Black American female licensed pilot; Shooting Star
  • Alice Allison Dunnigan, journalist, activist and author; Cranefly Orchid
  • Jean Ritchie, musician and archivist of Appalachian lore; Pawpaw Tree
  • Dr. Grace Marilynn James, race-barrier-breaking pediatrician; Harbinger of Spring
  • Suzy Post, civil rights activist; Jacob’s Ladder
  • Judi Conway Patton, Cherokee activist for women and child safety; Guyandotte Beauty

This notable exhibition has been made possible in part with the support of a 2020 Art Meets Activism grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Bernheim would like to give special thanks to Unique Imaging Concepts in Louisville for printing the work onto fabric panels and to Bernheim volunteers Sandy Nafziger and Linda Crouch for fabricating the banners. Drawer, printmaker and photographer Boros was born in Israel to Holocaust survivors and immigrated to the United States as a young child. A current resident of Skokie, Il, her love for the narrative was derived from the rich heritage of her European parentage, Israeli childhood and American influences.

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