A socially conscious collection by pop artist Andy Warhol has found a temporary home at the Ackland Art Museum.
The museum opened its "Andy Warhol: Endangered Species" exhibition on Sunday, consisting of Warhol's depiction of various endangered species.
The brightly colored prints of the endangered species are more than simple artwork by a famous artist - they send a message about the importance of the environment and the need to preserve wildlife, said Andy Berner, assistant director of development at the museum.
"They are a bridge between artwork and the environment and endangered species," Berner said.
The 10 prints gracing the museum's walls are immediately recognizable as products of Warhol's signature style. Many of the animals are painted in unconventional colors, such as a red panda or pink elephant, that bring a special light to the animals.
Carolyn Wood, curator of education at the museum, said that prints are meant to provoke thought about man's needs vs. animals' needs. Originally commissioned to raise awareness for endangered species, the exhibit should interest both students and professors, Wood said.
"Most people don't think art has anything to do with everyday life, that art doesn't have a message to get us thinking about things, but the prints are a subtle and extremely beautiful way of doing that," Wood said.
Berner added that despite the necessity of Warhol's message, some improvements have occurred since Warhol released the prints in 1983 - the bald eagle and the pine barrens tree frog, for example, have come off the endangered species list.
"It's definitely that pull of Andy Warhol's name that grabs attention right away, and it brings in the issues of the endangered species as well," Berner said.
Warhol was the leader of the Pop Art movement in the '60s and is most famous for his prints of celebrity portraits. Wood feels that the prints create icons of the animals like the celebrity portraits do, by depicting their profiles and printing them in the striking colors.
"They are extremely bold, arresting images that get at the essentials of how the animal looks on the outside and their attitude as well," Wood said.
In conjunction with "Andy Warhol: Endangered Species," the museum is sponsoring a lecture by Dr. David Wilcove, senior ecologist with Environmental Defense in Washington, D.C., in Hanes Art Center Auditorium at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 8. The exhibit runs through Jan. 21, 2001.
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