Exploring Nature’s Canvas at Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s Latest Exhibitions

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(WNY News Now) – WNY News Now recently delved into the captivating world of nature-inspired art at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, where artists Betsy Abbott and Spencer Fraser showcased their unique perspectives on the natural world. The institute also unveiled its exhibition, “ERGO SUM: A Crow A Day,” featuring artist Karen Bondarchuk’s poignant tribute to her mother’s journey through dementia.

Jamestown – Small World Exhibition: Betsy Abbott and Spencer Fraser

Located at 311 Curtis Street in Jamestown, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute welcomed WNY News Now for an exclusive tour of the Small World exhibition. Maria Ferguson, our knowledgeable guide, provided an intimate look at the artistic endeavors of Betsy Abbott and Spencer Fraser, both fervent admirers of the natural world.

Betsy Abbott, a quilt artist hailing from New England, utilizes her craft to encapsulate the essence of her surroundings. Through intricately designed quilts, she beautifully captures the landscapes of New England, including its oceans, tide pools, and marshes. Abbott’s passion for avian life is evident in her creations, where birds take center stage, allowing her to convey the significance of the natural world and its wildlife in her personal experiences. Her ability to translate the habitats she encounters into quilted masterpieces is a testament to her profound connection with the environment.

On the other hand, Spencer Fraser, residing in the Pacific Northwest, employs paint as his medium to narrate stories of the region’s habitats and wildlife. His paintings, characterized by intricate patterns, offer a unique perspective on the role of salmon as a keystone species in the ecosystem. Fraser’s storytelling approach brings to light the interdependence of various species and the vital role played by these intricate relationships in sustaining the Pacific Northwest’s rich biodiversity. The juxtaposition of Abbott’s quilted paintings and Fraser’s painted quilts adds a fascinating dimension to the exhibition, creating a seamless fusion of artistic expression and environmental advocacy.


The tour continued with a viewing of the Chautauqua County en Plein Air exhibit, which saw 18 artists coalesce during the Institute’s Plein Air Festival to capture various outdoor locations throughout the area and put them to canvas. Maria shared how interesting it can be to see how different artists can capture the same subject in such distinct ways.

ERGO SUM: A Crow A Day Exhibition by Karen Bondarchuk

The tour extended to the latest addition to the institute’s repertoire – the ERGO SUM: A Crow A Day exhibition by artist Karen Bondarchuk. This emotionally charged exhibition stems from Bondarchuk’s personal journey as she coped with her mother’s dementia diagnosis. Through her art, Bondarchuk not only pays homage to her mother but also reflects on the passage of time.

As a part of the exhibition, Bondarchuk will host an artist talk and book signing on Friday at 5:30 pm. Her project has materialized into a book, providing an in-depth exploration of ERGO SUM: A Crow A Day. The Roger Tory Peterson Institute eagerly anticipates Bondarchuk’s presence, eager to delve into the artist’s motivations, creative process, and the emotional resonance that underpins her work.

Bondarchuk’s project stands as a testament to the therapeutic and transformative power of art, transcending personal struggles into a universal language that resonates with audiences. The institute is honored to provide a platform for Bondarchuk to share her story and connect with the community.

The Roger Tory Peterson Institute continues to be a hub of artistic expression and environmental appreciation. Through the Small World exhibition’s dual perspectives and the emotionally charged ERGO SUM: A Crow A Day, the institute offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the intersection of nature, art, and personal narratives.

Attendees can witness the seamless fusion of quilting and painting, the eloquent storytelling of Fraser, and the poignant reflection of Bondarchuk’s journey. The convergence of these exhibitions not only celebrates the diversity of artistic expression but also serves as a reminder of the profound connections between humanity and the natural world. The Roger Tory Peterson Institute remains committed to fostering a deeper understanding of our environment through the lens of art, inviting everyone to partake in the beauty and complexity of the world we inhabit.

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