New Feature Exhibition in September August 17 2021

Radical Naturalism

September 4-24, 2021
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 4, 4 - 7 PM
Artists Talk: Friday, September 24, 11 AM


Left to Right:
Jim Draper, Swallowtail on Joe Pyle Weed, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 11 inches
Jim Draper, Red Fungi, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 11 inches

About the Exhibition

Jacksonville-based artist Jim Draper is known for his paintings that depict the rich diversity of flora and fauna indicative of the South. Draper’s artwork is strongly influenced by the philosophy of radical naturalism, and he draws inspiration from conservationists, naturalists, and artists known for their expert observations of the natural world.

In 2012, Draper exhibited a body of work titled Feast of Flowers, in which he presented paintings of prevalent wildlife in Florida before Ponce de Leon’s arrival in 1513. He came across varying viewpoints and attitudes about the natural world while researching this exhibition, but the tenets of radical naturalism stuck with him. He explains, “Ultimately, naturalism suggests that we are informed through direct observation of natural systems. A radical approach to naturalism suggests looking at the natural world in a way that puts our species in a cooperative position with others instead of a superior position.”

This philosophy of radical naturalism continues to influence Jim Draper’s approach to painting and is at the heart of this exhibition. The imagery he has collected for this body of work was found through direct interaction with natural systems in the South. Seashells, water lilies, butterflies, shrubs, insects, and fungi are just some of the lifeforms that dot the landscape, interacting in complex ways. Draper elaborates, “Relationships are bountiful: between predator and prey, host plants and pollinators, and the many forms of parasitism that occur.”

The subjects that Draper has chosen to illustrate are typically centered on the canvas against a minimal background to emphasize their unique forms. When viewed within the larger context of the exhibition, deeper connections and associations can be made. In the spirit of radical naturalism, this exhibition prompts viewers to consider not just how we, as humans, interact with the natural world, but the myriad ways all living things interact with one another.

About the Artist:

Jim Draper grew up in Kosciusko, Mississippi, the geographical center of the state. He attended the University of Mississippi where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1974 and he received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia at Athens in 1978. He now lives in Jacksonville, Florida and has taught drawing and painting at Florida State College in Jacksonville, Flagler College in St. Augustine, and as a faculty member and Galleries Coordinator for the University of North Florida. He is currently retired from teaching and works full-time in the studio. His work, which includes drawing, painting, photography, video, and writing, is informed by journeys into the wilds of Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.