El Pasoan's Hobby Blossoms into UTEP Exhibition
Last Updated on September 10, 2021 at 12:00 AM
Originally published September 10, 2021
By Daniel Perez
An El Paso woman's interest in native plants in the early 1900s has become the subject of a new exhibit that combines student art and a historical plant collection in The University of Texas at El Paso's Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens.
“Where We Will Grow: Elsie Slater, Plants and Art” opened Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in the museum’s Pop-Up Gallery. The exhibit will close Jan. 15, 2022.
Slater was a self-taught biologist, teacher, artist and writer who documented her love of El Paso foliage as the author of newspaper articles and three books, as well as various art pieces. Her collection included more than 200 pressed plants.
“Elsie’s work is lyrical and relatable,” said Muriel Norman, Biodiversity Collections curatorial assistant and exhibition curator. “It’s not just for the scientific community. She made scientific illustrations and more artistic paintings of plants.”
The collection inspired Vicky Zhuang, Ph.D., the University’s Biodiversity Collections manager, to collaborate with Nabil Gonzalez, a lecturer from the Department of Art, and Gonzalez’s art students to create pieces based on the Slater Plant Collection.
Organizers arranged six of those pieces alongside Slater’s specimens as well as some of her field notes, writings and watercolor sketches provided by the museum, the Biodiversity Collections and the C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department.
Exhibitors encourage visitors to take a self-guided tour of the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens to experience some of the plant species that Slater documented a century ago.
The exhibit sponsors are the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, Inspire! Grants for Small Museums, the National Science Foundation – Advancing Digitization, and Biodiversity Collections.