Bearing Witness to Nature | The Art of Sara Reynolds Lubinski

Bearing Witness to Nature | The Art of Sara Reynolds Lubinski

They say that timing is every little thing. When most folks listen to that, they smile and nod, remembering a certain event in their lifetime that verified it as a impressive fact. Occasionally, when Sara Reynolds Lubinski hears it, she begins wondering if she was born in the ideal century.

Sara has a deep and complicated relationship with character. She is an artist and a scientist, and her position products, artistic spirit, and individual targets arrive from the two disciplines and a diversity of other folks. The 19th-century painters of the Hudson River Faculty and the Tonalist movement motivated her desire for portray landscapes. Scientists and conservationists fostered her curiosity, appreciate of understanding, and appreciation for all that mother nature offers. Philosophers of all ages have formed her values about the strategies people need to interact with nature. Around her life span, these collective influences have reworked her from a tranquil observer to somebody who can and does bear witness, predominantly by way of her rare atmospheric portray model.

Once in a while, she nevertheless desires about sitting down to lunch and posing queries about lifestyle and art to the Buddha, George Inness, Aldo Leopold, Henry David Thoreau, and Sara Plummer Lemmon (the botanist and namesake of Mount Lemmon close to Tucson, Arizona). Cross-chopping feelings and ordeals dominate those people that manifest in her paintings.

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It all started out on the rambling residence wherever she grew up on the edge of Lincoln, Nebraska, and the nearby compact town exactly where generations of her mother’s relatives lived. Sara remembers checking out the gardens and woods, roaming the fields and remnant prairies accumulating bugs, studying the tunes of local birds, and crawling underneath shrubs to observe and hear to no matter what critter handed by.

She started out drawing early, picking factors she was most fond of – animals, crops, the sky. Her drawings drew the attention of her elementary college teachers, and she was delighted to be pulled absent from her school desk to paint seasonal and holiday murals. The instructors sent apologetic notes to her mom for her paint-splashed outfits.

Her clearest childhood reminiscences, relatives excursions throughout the plains to Colorado to visit her father’s family and stay in mountain cabins, forecast her future attraction to landscapes. For the duration of the extensive drives throughout Nebraska and eastern Colorado, she was mesmerized by the vast prairie skies and the storms that rolled throughout the plains. “To this day,” Sara reflects, “I experience a deep link to the Great Plains, to individuals prolonged sights, rolling hills, far-off horizons, and waving fields of grasses. It is even now a put where by my breath grows deep and easy.”

Her mother and father took her, at age 8, to museums and theater performances in New York Town. Her existence-lengthy attraction to the formal arts was established from that time forward.

Sara inherited her father’s temperament, introverted and pensive with a keen perception of observation. Jointly they explored fields and forests and sat on the display screen porch immediately after darkish, listening for the calls of owls or the howls of coyotes.

As a younger teenager, a transfer to the Chicago space launched Sara to the Art Institute of Chicago, exactly where her mom signed her up for summer months lessons. Right after lessons, she would wander the galleries for hours, enchanted by the Impressionist and French Barbizon painters. She was captivated to the will work of Monet, Corot, Constable, and Van Gogh, as perfectly as Thomas Cole, the Luminists and Tonalists, especially John Kensett, James Whistler, and George Inness with his moody, mysterious landscapes. It was there that any lingering doubt was erased. She knew she preferred to be a painter.

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She majored in artwork through her very first two yrs at the University of Wisconsin. But her concern about environmental difficulties fostered a new interest in science. The works of Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, and some others led her to study biology.

With an eye towards upcoming employment, she improved her key from art to biology, wherever she at some point attained a master’s diploma with an emphasis on botany and ecology, but her inventive pursuits and competencies were in no way far absent. She worked as a graphic artist in the university’s media office, making training elements, in particular for the biology department, where by she turned the go-to artist for anatomical diagrams and textbook drawings.

She created a deep respect and friendship with her big professor, botanizing with him for years after graduating. When he handed absent in 2016, she designed an exhibition of paintings primarily based on the native vegetation she’d discovered from his tutelage. The exhibit packed the gallery with his colleagues, her former biology and art professors, and students from many many years.

In 1989, Sara accepted a position with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Assistance on the Upper Mississippi River, checking and looking into aquatic vegetation. The position expected touring the river from Minnesota to southern Illinois. She put in days on the river in a tiny, flat-bottomed boat, recording plant destinations and referencing aerial pictures to build maps valued by river administrators. The magnificence of the river, primarily its backwaters and facet channels, lingered. So substantially so that her very first solo show, “Backwaters and Aspect Channels,” was primarily based on these unique habitats, with paintings usually cast in night light-weight or with the total moon soaring above quiet waters.

In 1996, she began describing, classifying, and mapping vegetation for nationwide parks.

Sara beloved investigating plant geography and ecology and hiking to “ground truth” aerial pictures in distant regions. “It was hard function, bodily and mentally,” she notes, “and typically thrilling with sightings of grizzly bears, wolves, and moose. The magnificence of the parks was astounding, and I frequently thought about how fortunate I was to knowledge these types of awesome places on these types of an intimate degree. Nonetheless I was saddened to discover how the impacts of individuals have been altering the sensitive ecology of even the remotest locations.”

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Glacier National Park rekindled her very long-buried dream of someday being a painter. “I started mixing shades in my head to match the mountains and lakes,” Sara states, “and from that instant on, the wish and want to paint turned more robust. A pair of a long time later, lastly acknowledging it was time for a change, I made the giant leap to depart govt function. I preferred to place my complete interest towards painting. Nonetheless, I continued to perform element-time even though relearning the abilities I required.”

The change to artwork could seem to be a remarkable departure from a reliable and predictable scientific job, but Sara understood both careers ended up primarily based on what she uncovered vital and lovely. She uncovered solace in the kindred souls of recent and previous naturalists, painters, and philosophers she admired. A quote by Einstein appeared to rise from her very own heart:

“The most wonderful issue we can working experience is the mysterious. It is supply of all art and science. Whoever does not know it and can no lengthier marvel, no extended marvel, is as superior as useless, and his eyes are dimmed.”
–Albert Einstein, 1931

Sara expended the future 10 years mastering how to grow to be a experienced artist, using plein air workshops with Marc Hanson in Minnesota and Lorenzo Chavez in Arizona, an art small business workshop via Xanadu Gallery of Phoenix, and starting her profession as a result of regional artwork fairs and displays. She examined with Deborah Paris, and through her, Sara learned to weave her love of science and normal historical past with the moods and techniques of nineteenth-century Tonalist painters. Like the Tonalists of that century, her perform advanced to scenes of quietude, with a preference for the subdued several hours of twilight and mysteries of nighttime and moonlight, devoid of human existence, symbolizing spots of solace. “I recognized,” Sara recollects, “a will need to have an total sense of peace in my paintings, contemplative and reflective, metaphoric of my relationship with the landscape. I wished my paintings to extoll the magnificence of Earth with an underlying feeling of awe and connectedness. It is this further relationship I hope to carry to other folks.”

Over and above an artist’s working day-to-working day function, Sara proceeds hunting for deeper meaning along her inventive and daily life route. A quote from Wendell Berry encouraged what Sara phone calls “precepts to live by” – embracing solitude, trying to get mindfulness and consciousness, remaining open to magnificence and thriller, dwelling only and with a thoughtful rhythm to just about every day.

“True solitude is observed in the wild destinations, where a person is without having human obligation. One’s inner voices turn out to be audible. One feels the attraction of one’s most intimate resources. In consequence, one responds additional obviously to other life.”

–Wendell Berry

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In 2014, Sara commenced a two-year solo exhibit tour all over artwork museums and galleries along the Mississippi River in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The moment once more, this journey mixed her passions for artwork and science. “River Sojourn: A Painter’s Portfolio of the Mississippi River Blufflands,” consisted of additional than seventy paintings, revealing the special habitats of a geological area termed the Driftless Space. The exhibit convinced her that her do the job had the impressive potential to link people today with character and inspire problem for the environment. KSMQ Television, a regional PBS station in Minnesota, felt her operate was critical and powerful more than enough to develop a 50 percent-hour documentary about the show. It was demonstrated at her community functions and aired normally on Minnesota PBS stations.

As a lot as she loved the Upper Mississippi River area and was thriving as an artist there, the Fantastic Plains and the West of her childhood beckoned. When viewing family members that had gravitated West before, she, way too, fell in love with the location, particularly the mountain ranges and legendary desert vegetation. She attended plein-air workshops with Lorenzo Chavez and explored the area with local botanists. In late 2018, following her husband’s retirement from the U.S. Geological Study, they made the decision to go away the Upper Midwest for Tucson, pushed by Sara’s motivation to paint the desert landscape, be closer to spouse and children, and escape the prolonged Minnesota winters.

As a new resident of the Southwest, Sara is thrilled to be discovering the mountain and desert area that encourage her continuing hard work to hook up folks to character. In 2020, she was selected as an artist-in-home at the Petrified Forest Countrywide Park. Two of her paintings from that practical experience are now portion of the park’s long term collection.

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The artist at work in her studio

In the Tucson location, she finds inspiration in the bordering mountains, desert washes, and amazing night skies. “It is the magnificence I see in character that compels me to paint,” Sara confirms, “but I also know my private ordeals, understanding, and insights seep into my get the job done.

Portray is a way of expressing what I locate beautiful, but beyond that, it also will help me bear witness to our marriage with the world and what that signifies. My paintings have always been a way of bringing awareness about mother nature to others. I try to reveal and amplify how character comforts and supports all of us and how we are hardwired to respond to it. We want to get the time to be mindful of and take our deep connections and duties to the earth and each individual other.” She hopes that her psychological connections to character come across their way by her paintings to the hearts of her viewers.

We are blessed she was born in the suitable century.

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