Exhibit exhibits ‘small deaths’

Caroline Hau

Large format silver gelatin paintings depicting birds, flowers and insects are hanging on the walls on the second floor of the Mulvane Art Museum.

The exhibition features work by Kate Breakey, originally from Southern Australia, who is now residing in Tucson, Ariz. The artist creates the pictures by taking a black and white, silver gelatin photograph and hand coloring them with colored pencils and oil paint. Many layers in oil are required to create the effect on the creatures in the paintings.

“I enjoy that she took a traditional photograph and painted it,” said Amber Aylor, freshman art education major. “I would have never thought of that.”

The animals are actually dead when the photographs are taken, but are brought back to life through the artist.

‘The creatures are painted as individuals, each with a unique life story, a different tragic death and each found in different stages of decomposition,’  are the words written on a sign at the entrance to the exhibition.

“You don’t know these animals are dead, the other aspects of the picture are more eye catching than the fact that they are dead,” said Chelsey Jamison, sophomore physical therapist major. “I really like the detail. The bird pictures are my favorite. I like the close-up of the birds.”

Students said the colors made the difference.

“The paintings are so bright and vibrant. The bright colors bring the birds to life,” said Jan Bychinski, museum experience and gallery manager. “You have to look close to figure out that they are not alive.”

The birds shown at Mulvane are ranging from hawks, owls, quail, ducks and a turkey to various songbirds.

“It is giant,” said Aylor. “I love that she made the little things big.”

Jamison said she would recommend the exhibit.

“I would tell others, if they  love nature and want to see real detail, they should come and see this,” said Jamison.

The exhibit is loaned from the Whittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography, Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas and will be displayed until June 9.

The Mulvane Art Museum is located at 1700 S.W. Jewell Ave. The museum is open Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Admission to the museum is free of charge. For more information about the Mulvane Art Musuem or upcoming exhibits, visit the website at: [email protected].