SALEM, MA -- The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) unveils its redesigned and expanded Art & Nature Center with a free opening day celebration on Saturday, October 19. Featuring new exhibition spaces, art studios, interactive stations and amenities for young families, the museum's Art & Nature Center attracts adult and children audiences alike. Ever-rotating programs, activity stations, multimedia elements and annual exhibitions highlight the vital connections between human creativity and the natural world. The Art & Nature Center's premiere exhibition, Beyond Human: Artist-Animal Collaborations, features nearly 40 paintings, installations, photographs and audio and video recordings by artists who co-create or investigate art with live animals. 

"Artists are remarkable for their ability to continually offer fresh perspectives and share creative new ways of interacting with the world," says Jane Winchell, PEM's Sarah Fraser Robbins Director of the Art & Nature Center.  "While artists have depicted animals for thousands of years, Beyond Human celebrates a relatively recent phenomenon: artists who work directly with animals - either through collaboration or by tapping into an animal's innate behavior - to create unique works of art."

At turns humorous and surreal, German artist Corinna Schnitt's 2005 video Once Upon a Time explores animal behavior in a human context. By situating a rotating camera at floor level Schnitt documents how, in the course of 25 minutes, a living room descends into chaos as animals -- domestic and barnyard -- are introduced into the space.  Kittens climb the curtains, dogs drink water from a fishbowl, ducks tip over baskets while goats and a donkey sets about deleafing every houseplant in sight. Suspense is generated as the camera pivots from one scene of casual destruction to another while the sounds of crashing objects and braying animals come from just beyond the frame.

William Wegman's creative partnership with animals first began in the 1970s when his first Weimaraner, Man Ray, kept wandering onto the set of his video studio. Hundreds of photos and several generations of Weimaraners later, Wegman's images of dogs have made an indelible mark on the art world. With their expressive faces, malleable forms and patient dispositions, Wegman's Weimaraners are ideal collaborators in the studio.  In his 2008 work Platform Shoes a Weimaraner has a somewhat worried look while balancing atop four upside-down galvanized planters. Ever-inventive and always executed with a wry sense of humor, Wegman's creative experiments with "man's best friend" have become one of the most iconic examples of artist-animal collaborations.

Mary Jo McConnell, a Massachusetts painter, considers the bowerbirds of Papua New Guinea to be fellow artists. Unique to the animal world, male bowerbirds are known to create elaborate and carefully constructed displays to attract a mate. Insects, flowers, berries, rocks, fungus and moss are collected by the birds and judiciously arranged to create original compositions emphasizing color, texture and light. For more than 20 years, McConnell has made an annual sojourn to the forests of Papua New Guinea to sketch -- and later paint -- the bowerbirds' fantastical creations. In addition to McConnell's paintings, Beyond Human features an interactive station where guests create their own bowerbird-inspired displays.

OPENING DAY CELEBRATION: Saturday October 19, 2013 | FREE

Celebrate the opening day of Beyond Human: Artist-Animal Collaborations! Meet featured artists from the exhibition, learn to dance like a bird,  make beeswax art, and more!

DROP-IN ART MAKING: Paws-On Painting | 10 am-12:30 pm | Create Space 2

How would you paint if you had a trunk or claws instead of hands? Try out our animal-inspired painting tools and make your mark!

COLLABORATIVE ART: Natural Patterns with Gowri Savoor | 10:30 am-4 pm | Atrium

Join environmental artist Gowri Savoor to create a rangoli masterpiece of natural materials.  Come back throughout the day to watch the pattern emerge and evolve! 

ARTIST DEMONSTRATION: Painting with Cockroaches | 10:30 am-12:30 pm | Atrium

Beyond Human participating artist Steven Kutcher demonstrates how he uses live hissing cockroaches to create collaborative artwork.

STORY TIME: Elephants Can Paint Too! | 10:30-11 am | For children ages 4+ with adult | Info Desk

Do elephants learn to paint the same way as kids? What tools do they use?  Find out as we read Elephants Can Paint Too! by Katya Arnold and look at paintings made by elephants on display in Beyond Human

PERFORMANCE: A Passion for Birds | 11-11:45 am & 1:15-2 pm | Atrium

Artist and performer Henry Lappen studied numerous birds to create the masks and movements that form his dance. Learn how to strike a pose like a seagull or soar like an eagle in this participatory, comic performance!

DROP-IN ART MAKING: Art of the Hive | Noon-3 pm | Create Space

Meet beekeeper Barbara Milhender and find out more about the tools and techniques for working with bees. Then create your own beeswax artwork to take home.

ARTIST PRESENTATION: Elephants as Artists| 1-1:45 pm | Morse Auditorium

Renowned international artist Alex Melamid, a participating artist in Beyond Human and co-founder of the Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project, is joined by program director David Ferris in this special presentation about the artist's groundbreaking partnership with Asian elephants in Thailand. Find out what the artist has learned about elephant creativity and what we can learn about elephants from their art.

PERFORMANCE: Go, Dog, Go! | 2-2:45 pm | Bartlett Gallery

Watch the dogs of Operation Canine go through their paces! These remarkable and highly intelligent dogs work in close collaboration with their human partners.

ARTIST PERFORMANCE & DEMONSTRATION: Scratch Theremin | 2:30-3:15 pm | Morse Auditorium

Beyond Human participating artist Julie Andreyev performs a site-specific composition on the amazing Theremin, creating a collaborative piece featuring projection video and recordings made with her companion dog, Tom. After the 15 minute performance, find out how this fascinating instrument works (think electro-magnetic fields) and try playing the Theremin yourself - on stage with the artist! Made possible by a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

ARTIST PRESENTATION: Bugs in the Movies | 3:30-4:15 pm | Morse Auditorium

Artist Steven Kutcher also works as a bug wrangler for numerous movies, television shows and commercials, including Spiderman, Matilda, and We Bought a Zoo.  Enjoy behind-the-scenes stories of working with insects on camera and see clips of these six- and eight-legged stars in action.


Come take a walk on the wild side of art as we celebrate the opening of the redesigned Art & Nature Center!

                DROP-IN ART MAKING: Stackable Stones | 10 am - 1 pm| Atrium

Work with environmental artist Kyle Browne to create one-of-a-kind balanced sculpture of stones and other natural materials collected around the North Shore.

                ANIMAL FACE PAINTING | 10 am - 1 pm | Atrium

Let the award-winning face painters from Art on the Spot transform you into your favorite critter.

                DROP-IN ART MAKING: Live owl sculpting | 10:30 am - 1pm | Create Space

Join artist Sarah Seabury Ward as she leads a clay sculpting demonstration featuring live owls from Eyes on Owls.

                DROP-IN ART MAKING: Silk screening | 10:30 am - 1pm | Create Space

                DROP-IN ART MAKING: Tagua Nut Scrimshaw | 10:30 am - 1pm | Art Nook

                PUPPET PERFORMANCE: River Tales, Flights of Fancy | 11:30 am - 12: 15 pm | Atrium

                MARIONETTE WALKABOUTS | 10:30 - 11 am & 12:30 - 1pm | Art & Nature Center


EXHIBITION CREDIT: Support provided by the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.

IMAGE CREDIT: Platform Shoes, 2008, William Wegman. Courtesy of the artist.


Founded in 1799, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) presents outstanding works of artistic and cultural creativity in ways that transform people's lives. The museum's collection is among the finest of its kind, showcasing an unrivaled spectrum of American art and architecture as well as outstanding Asian, Asian export, Native American, African, Oceanic, maritime and photography collections. In addition to its vast holding, the museum offers a vibrant schedule of changing exhibitions and an interactive education center. The museum campus features numerous parks, period gardens and 22 historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. Currently, a comprehensive $650 million Campaign is underway to advance PEM's mission, fortify its endowment, improve infrastructure and build a 175,000-square-foot expansion.HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm, and the third Thursday of every month, 10 am-9:30 pm. Closed Mondays (except holidays), Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.  ADMISSION: Adults $15; seniors $13; students $11. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $5. Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang.  INFO: Call 866?745?1876 or visit our website at



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