By Casey Beebe
We were so pleased this past year to work again with local artist and writer Deborah Savage with support from an exhibit grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences. Deborah painted some beautiful, true to life, educational mural panels for our composting restrooms and background habitat paintings for our turtles and snake. In the past, we worked with Deborah to create an integrated language arts and science project, the “Connecticut River Alphabet”, as a project at the Montague Center School.
Deborah is a local treasure in that her naturalist skills and attention to detail make her paintings and illustrations both scientifically accurate as well as playful and vibrantly colorful. In our restrooms she painted three different murals masterfully duplicated by hand in each bathroom.
These include a delightful Whose Scat is That? painting asking you to guess which scat goes with which animal. Another is titled Nature’s Recyclers that is an underground cross section accurately magnifying some of the fascinating decomposers that live in our soil. The third panel is a Water is Life mural with a swimming otter and loon as well as fish, turtles and local amphibians. Our composting restrooms are not only a popular destination, they are highly educational too!
You can see more of Deborah’s work throughout the region at the Holyoke Children’s Museum, Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Nuestras Raices, Holyoke Community College, just to name a few. She offers artist workshops with adults and youth and as has worked with many school systems as an artist in residence and leading Youth Mural Projects. As she says “A bare wall + a bunch of kids + paint = a beautiful work of art and tons of pride!”
One of her current projects is a stunning collection of Wildlife Graffiti paintings where she blends photos of found graffiti and industrial elements with the animals that also exist in these marginal spaces. It’s called Edgelands: From the Border Between Urban and Wild and Deborah describes her forays to the train tracks in this way.
But what gets my attention most on those long stretches of track is another world, more familiar but largely hidden, which thrives seemingly-incongruously with the graffiti-festooned trains: the wooded right-of-ways through which miles and miles of tracks run are home to a rich variety of wildlife. These woods, as well as so-called “wasteland” stretches of tangled weeds, briar thickets and scrub trees common to railway right-of-ways, provide habitats for hundreds of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Often these wooded and overgrown areas run through an otherwise urban landscape. Unlike more scenic areas like state parks or wilderness recreation areas with trails through them, these wild areas are largely ignored.
We hope very much to get this collection on display in our Community Gallery soon.
To learn more about her many projects and offerings visit her website.Click here to return to full list of blog entries. Or chose a specific Blog category below.