Botanical Illustration = Art + Science

February 15, 2023 Exhibits Department

Experience artworks by instructors and students from Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art & Illustration in Flora: Scientific Botanical Illustrations of Colorado Plants, on view now at the Arvada Center. This exhibition is one of three currently on display, each focusing on the connections between scientific research and artistic expressions. The other two include Art + Science and Gary Staab: Second Nature

A standing centerpiece at the entrance includes sculpted portions of a dinosaur head, a Beelzebufo ampinga (the largest frog that ever lived), an octopus and Homo habilis, to quickly engage the visitor in the art + science mindset. 

On the upper floor Theater Gallery, voices come from a wall-mounted video that speaks to viewers about botanical illustration. Flora gives viewers a glimpse into the life of a School of Botanical Art & Illustration student: A plexiglass case houses materials students use throughout the certificate program along with pressed flowers, botany books and tools used in field-collecting botanical specimens. 

Flora features 14 Colorado native plant illustrations next to an image of their corresponding herbarium sheet. The colorful illustrations give viewers awareness about the specimen’s once vivid appearance next to their flattened, dried and sometimes monotoned-color version. The herbarium sheet and artwork provide history of the specimen’s existence while exhibiting the importance of botanical illustration, both necessary today and for the future. 

Flora is on display through March 26 in the Theater Gallery on the second floor of the Arvada Center.


This article was contributed by Carina Bañuelos-Harrison, manager of the School of Botanical Art & Illustration 

Images courtesy the Arvada Center.


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