Exhibit: The Naturalists at Ohio Art League

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The fresh, clean taste of spring is arising, and seasonal fever is spreading. Before it fully takes hold, the Ohio Art League slips in a reason to go indoors and appreciate nature.

Its March exhibition, "The Naturalists," displays work by three artists exploring the natural world as a source of beauty, reflection, knowledge and fear.

Photographer Francis Schanberger shows pieces from "Forces of Nature," a series prompted by his own troubles with allergies around this time of year. Curious about the cause, he started collecting dead leaves and other materials that had fallen from plants and trees.

Like a kid watching clouds, Schanberger free-associated on form while capturing his finds in large, Van Dyke Brown prints on crinkly Kozo Unryu paper. The result is visually leading titles such as the cone-shaped "Decaying Leaf (Dunce)."

Dead leaves also occupy the work of Erin Holscher-Almazan, appearing in the "Arrangement" series of monotypes against a scrubbed-white surface area.

But the female form is what's predominant in her offerings. With the "Anchor" series, which lays solar-printed nude studies over pages of the text "Elements of Botany," the artist illustrates the connections between the life cycles of plants and humans through a process powered by the star on which all life relies.

Diane Stemper contributes a series of tiny, collaged artist books, shaped to fit into covered Petri dishes. Their contents take heavy inspiration from Darwin's "The Origin of Species," and in turn place fresh emphasis on the role imagination plays in inspiring scientific research.

In other works, such as the drawing "Crude," Stemper's focus moves from observation to encroachment. Its pluming lines of blue and black immediately suggest an image of the BP oil spill that's clearer and more strangely gorgeous than an underwater camera could ever provide. The effect is more profound than days of round-the-clock news coverage.

The Naturalists

Through April 2

Ohio Art League

1552 N. High St., South Campus

oal.org