Beaver Tales art exhibit supports conservation

One of the many beaver-related pieces at the exhibition, by artist Jennifer Richmond

Madilyn Sturges, Multimedia Contributor

Beavers are more than just the mascot of Oregon State University. The beaver is also Oregon’s state animal. And with the help of SPARK, OSU’S Year of Art and Science and The Wetlands Conservancy (TWC), the animal who carries a negative stigma will be brought into a new light in a traveling exhibit called Beaver Tales.

Charles Robinson, one of the main leaders of SPARK, said they wanted to focus this exhibit on the beaver because of its unique nature.

“The animal is open to avenues of understanding and misunderstanding,” Robinson said. “There’s scientific questions, there’s cultural questions, there’s artistic questions.”

Robinson isn’t the only one helping put together the exhibit. Ester Lev, the director of TWC, said the art exhibit is a celebration of the beaver and the launch of the Conservancy’s statewide beaver conservation vision.

“Our goal is to learn more about how we can coexist and work with beavers to conserve and restore natural systems,” Lev said.

The art exhibition is being held in LaSells Stewart Center and is planned to run all of February. Afterwards, the exhibit gets mobile and will travel throughout 2017.

The exhibit holds art by over one hundred artists from all around Oregon, each using a different medium to explore the beaver. Joined by these artists are scientists and historians who all work together to create an exhibit that wholeheartedly shows the beaver in its natural habitat.

“You have very, very traditional realistic, naturalistic portrayals of the animal,” Robinson said. “But you also have ones that are quite playful and abstract.”

The coordinator for Beaver Tales through The Wetlands Conservancy, Sara Vickerman, hopes this traveling exhibit helps bring awareness to beavers and their importance to the environment.

“We hope to raise awareness of the ecological importance of beavers, increase the public’s appreciation of them and get people involved in conservation,” Vickerman said. “Where beavers cause conflicts, we hope managers will look for solutions that benefit both people and beavers.”

While enjoying the exhibit, art fans can buy any art they like. Through the art will stay on the traveling exhibit till the end of the year, they will have ownership over that piece of art. The money from the artwork will be distributed to the artists themselves, with a percentage going to LaSells and TWC. With the money the TWC gets from the sold artwork, they will be able to focus on helping to develop and conserve beaver habitats.

“The purpose of the traveling art show is to highlight the aesthetic, ecological and cultural significance of [the] beaver,” Lev said. “The beaver is increasingly recognized for its positive contribution to the creation and maintenance of wetland habitat.”

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