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A World of Wonders at AiM

A World of Wonders at AiM

Written by Kaitlin Hill | Images courtesy of the Artists in Middleburg 

“We can all see it: climate change, what is happening to the Arctic, what is happening to the animals, to the environment,” says Sandy Danielson, executive director of Artists in Middleburg (AiM). She continues, “We didn’t want to take a depressing look at what is happening, but [instead] highlight what is beautiful about our world and why we need to save it.” 

AiM’s latest exhibition, “A World of Wonders, Let’s Save It! Nature’s Beauty in Focus,” on display through May 5, does just that. Through the eyes of local artists, the exhibit explores seemingly endless interpretations of the theme. From endangered species to familiar Loudoun landscapes, the exhibit touches every corner of the world and the heart of an issue that is important to the many conservation-minded Hunt Country residents. 

When asked what AiM was looking for in submissions, Danielson shares, “I was looking for landscapes, animals, or particular plants — something that we see that is beautiful and that we hold dear.” She adds, “Whether it’s in Virginia or Zimbabwe or Australia, [I sought] an interpretation of what we really embrace, what is beautiful, [and] what we really need to work to save.” 

In their statements, many of the participating artists shared that their paintings, while globally inspired, resonated with them personally — as meaningful art tends to do. 

“Eye of the Tiger,” 9 x 12 inches, colored pencil, Adele Buytenhuys.

Of her submission “Eye of the Tiger,” a captivating colored pencil on canvas rendering, Adele Buytenhuys writes, “Regretfully tigers are on the endangered list. I have captured their eyes in several mediums, pencils being my favorite. As I was born in the year of the tiger, I think something speaks to me about these beautiful cats.” 

And Dana Lee Thompson takes a vintage scientific approach to “Bug’s World,” an oil painting. She writes, “I painted this after a 1900s illustration. It shows caterpillars and butterflies, mostly. I find insects very interesting. They are in decline like most things nowadays.” 

“Bug’s World,” 13 x 16 inches, oil painting, Dana Lee Thompson.

New life, abundance, and joy find their place in the exhibit, too. Of her piece “May’s Delight,” Jill Brabant writes, “Light seems to be playing on the petals of the flowers, giving depth to the painting and highlighting the delicate details in each bloom. There’s a sense of lushness and fullness to the composition, which is evocative of a garden in full spring bloom.” 

In her watercolor painting, Eva McKinley celebrates Glacier National Park. “The colors that danced off of the waters and the mountains surrounding the lake were unforgettable,” she shares. “My hope is that this painting evokes feelings of peace and joy into your home.”

“Rippling Waters, Glacier National Park,” 11 x 14 inches, watercolor painting, Eva McKinley.

Danielson says, “There are going to be a lot of beautiful, fascinating pieces of art in the gallery. It is going to be an explosion of visual interpretations.” And, more than the message the gallery sends home, Danielson adds, “The pieces are for sale. We want people to see the beauty and take it back with them.” AiM is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and art sales go toward supporting AiM’s work with local schools and students of all ages.

As for what Danielson hopes the exhibit will achieve, her words echo those of Van Gogh, who also praised the power of small actions: “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” For Danielson, that is “making people aware that there is a first step to any type of action, whether it’s supporting organizations who do the conservation, [participating] in a cleanup, or recycling. We can all do it in our own little ways.” ML

Don’t miss “A World of Wonders, Let’s Save It! Nature’s Beauty in Focus” at the Artists in Middleburg gallery starting April 6. 

The Artists in Middleburg
102 W. Washington Street
Middleburg, VA 20118
(540) 687-6600
Open Wednesday – Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.

Featured image: “May’s Delight,” 11 x 14 inches, oil painting, Jill Brabant.

Published in the April 2024 issue of Middleburg Life.

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