What is Com.En.ART?
COM.EN.ART is a unique residency for natural history artists and is a collaborative program between the New York State Museum and the Huyck Preserve. COM.EN.ART integrates not only the needs of the artist and the research station, but also contributes to the community by enhancing environmental awareness through the aesthetics of art. It affords the opportunity to work in the field which is a treasured and increasingly rare experience that is vital to produce inspired, insightful and excellent natural history artwork.
Natural history artists realize that the natural world is the source of their livelihood and inspiration. It is important that they actively participate in fostering an understanding and appreciative relationship with nature. People often relate to the art of nature even if they have little knowledge of biology. Natural history artwork can provide a link to environmental stewardship, preservation and conservation. Many artists specializing in natural history art are already deeply concerned and involved in these issues. The COM.EN.ART project is a wonderful way to continue to encourage dialogue and interaction among artists, scientists, and communities.
Residency and Reciprocity:
Each year up to six professional or aspiring natural history artists are selected to spend two weeks at the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station. The Preserve is comprised of hardwood stands - some more that 200 years old - hemlock forests, meadows, a bog, two lakes and a dramatic waterfall and offers a beautiful and rich working sanctuary for artistic and scientific exploration. During their residencies, artists are free to produce artwork in their chosen manner and medium. The institution provides rustic housing and studio space. In exchange, the artist is asked to contribute an original work constituting something appropriate for exhibition and publication and a page to our Artist’s Sketchbook as a way of reaching out to the community. Contributions of artwork and time spent working on the sketchbook page amount to approximately one day of each week spent at the preserve.
The Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station has a very distinguished history of pioneering research in ecology and biodiversity. It is within 40 minutes of the collections and reference resources of the New York State Museum; historically the most influential natural history survey in the United States. The historic records and the research resources of both institutions make possible a broad range of approaches to the residency in addition to time spent in the field.
“[COM.EN.ART was] a turning point in my career because it was the first time I had the opportunity to focus solely on my work...and gave me the confidence to later start my own illustration business.”
Mary Ellen Didion, 1998
The Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve, established in 1931, is in the midst of the picturesque village of Rensselaerville. It comprises 2,000 acres of hardwood stands, some more than 200 years old, hemlock forests, meadows, a bog, two lakes, and a dramatic waterfall. The dormitory and laboratory buildings are in
a secluded area overlooking Lincoln Pond. The entire area provides a beautiful and rich working sanctuary for artistic and scientific exploration.
The E. N. Huyck Preserve has a very distinguished history of pioneering research in ecology and biodiversity. It is within 40 minutes of the collections and reference resources of the New York State Museum; historically the most influential natural history survey in the United States. The historic records
and the research resources of both institutions make possible a broad range of approaches to the residency in addition to time spent in the field.
“Natural science artists have so much to contribute to the preservation of nature preserve sites, not only through the financial contribution that the donation of their work can make, but also and perhaps more importantly, through the visual communication about the environment that can
foster a deep appreciation and respect for it.”
Dr. Pat Kay, former director of the NY Botanical Garden Illustration Program and honorary director of the American Society of Botanical Artists
Logistics and Expectations:
It is important that participants are prepared to be self-reliant and adaptable to living and working conditions at the Preserve. This is a dynamic research and educational field station with many activities often occurring at the same time. Therefore all facilities must be shared respectfully and interference with
other people’s work must be kept at a minimum. If an artist prefers a quieter setting they should make this clear to Preserve personnel before their arrival, or chose a time at either end of the field season for their residency. Personal transportation is highly encouraged since the location of the field station is remote.
The rapport developed between artists, preserve personnel, researchers, and the community has been warm. Many artists have returned to continue their studies and collaborations.
“I loved my COM.EN.ART experience...and it did all that I hoped it would do for refreshment, focus, reassessment, introspection and enlightenment.”
Karen Allaben-Confer, 1998
E.H. Huyck Preserve
P.O. Box 189
Rensslaerville, NY 12147