Monday, March 23, 2020

Indoor Nature Walk: Exquisite Creatures and Order in Art

A few months ago we visited the Exquisite Creatures exhibit at OMSI, Oregon's Museum of Science and Industry. 

This exhibit included artwork by Christopher Marley, an Oregon artist who makes art out of nature, including bugs, birds, flowers, and other living creatures. Rest assured, none of these creatures have been killed. They are all animals in captivity that died a natural death. Marley, who was once an artist who liked to draw monsters, decided after traveling the world to capture nature instead.

What stood out to me about the exhibit wasn't just that beautiful artwork can be made out of the most unlikely of materials, but what Marley said about nature. We seek nature because it's orderly. We crave order, an order that is behind all creation. I found this interesting, especially as so much art (in all its forms) tends toward the random at times.

I have never been a fan of modern art. Perhaps for this reason.

But it made me think of writing. A sonnet is beautiful because it has form and rules. A novel, follows a form: beginning, middle, end. A picture book can only be 32 pages.

More skill is required to create art when there are limits.

Recently I attempted reading a classic modern novel. I'd read chapter one, for instance, and get hooked in the story, only to have it end at a cliffhanger. But chapter two was not a continuation of the plot, but the start of another story. There was no order. It was frustrating to say the least.

Some might call that beautiful, and we all know that awards committees often grant awards to what is novel or different.

But it is beautiful?

The sights of the Exquisite Creatures exhibit are unexpected, yes. Art should surprise you.

But it is orderly.

Just like nature. And good art.

What do you think of relationship between order, nature, and art? Can good art be created without order? Share in the comments below!

*All photos are my own.


  1. I'm not a fan of modern art either and the lack of order is probably why.

    1. Yes, I hadn't figured out the reason I didn't like it till I saw this exhibit.

  2. Nature has lots of orderly bits, like the regularity of the tides for example, but I like a bit of disorder when I walk in the woods, too; random mossy fallen trees, etc.

    1. Good point. I hadn't thought of the woods. Nature is beautiful in it's many forms.

  3. Interesting art, but I'm not sure that I'd be a fan of any that uses bugs.

    1. Ha! I only like the butterflies myself. 😊

  4. I love art museums, but we are under "Shelter-in-Place" here and they are all closed :(
    And all the while, nature is showing humanity its stuff

  5. Our visit wasn't recent. We don't have shelter in place yet, but all museums are closed. I'm so glad we still have the beauty of nature, especially this time of year.