Jim Draper - Feast of Flowers
What is our place within the natural order? This was a central question posed on Sunday afternoon during Jim Draper’s final Gallery Discussion accompanying the exhibition, Feast of Flowers. His latest body of work, now on display at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, examines the current state of native flora and fauna throughout Florida and asks the viewer to consider how the environment has changed since Europeans first encountered the area 500 years ago.
Draper has spent much of his time outside of the studio seeking out Florida’s undeveloped areas. As an artist, he says that it is his job to observe and record what he sees. For Feast of Flowers, this translates into 32 large-scale depictions of specific species of Florida wildlife (including a striking single magnolia blossom fully opened and a Mangrove Buckeye butterfly delicately resting amongst foliage), as well as intimate vistas seemingly undisturbed by the presence of humans. Given their scale (all of the pieces are at least 48 in. high), these paintings call attention to and elevate the importance of nature’s easily over-looked or otherwise unseen moments…the brief glory of a jumping gulf sturgeon or a pine lily basking in the Florida sunshine.
The title Feast of Flowers references “Pascua Florida,” the original Spanish given name for this area because of its perceived bounty. In viewing Draper’s paintings, we are reminded that these natural wonders are not merely consumable or disposable commodities. What is our role in the preservation of Florida’s ecosystem? Draper presents these questions without imposing right or wrong answers. For now, the intention is to start a conversation and get people thinking about the issues facing our natural resources.
This exhibition runs through April 7, 2013.