In the spring of 2022, Indiana based natural history artist Alex Warnick spent an intensive week at RTPI where she studied Roger Tory Peterson’s work in our archives. She took away much inspiration for her future work. In Alex’s own words, “When I first walked into the lodge at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, I could sense that the building was a place to contemplate the nexus of art and science. My favorite spot to sit was next to a fireplace in what looked like a Victorian living room where the Nuttal Ornithological Club could have met for their bimonthly meetings. The lodge captures the origin of birding and its rigorous scientific beginning, but it didn’t feel exclusive.”

“When Roger illustrated his field guide, he made art an integral part of birding’s history. Art acts as a bridge that connects citizens with seemingly inaccessible science. The presence of art, whether it’s a diagram in a scientific publication or a mural at a nature center, displays an intent to clarify and communicate complex ideas. It signifies an inclusive intention and fosters open dialogue. When the scientific revolution led to an explosion of known life, the influx of new information became overwhelming for the everyday person. Roger discovered a way to organize and simplify the chaos so people could engage with nature instead of tuning it out. My plan of action during my residency was to absorb as much as I could, knowing that one random piece of information could lead to a river of ideas for my own art practice. Studying Roger’s original paintings in hand served this artist a slice of humble pie. I was inspired to get back to my studio and keep learning.”

You can view more of Alex’s work here.