Wondrous Transformation & Peculiar Nourishment


Organized by Professor and Chair Ruthann Godollei, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN, USA, and Assistant Professor Emily Arthur, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI, USA

This portfolio consists of prints made by contemporary women printmakers working within the theme of metamorphosis, transformation, and the nourishment needed for the evolution of cultures and societies. A variety of traditional and alternative print media is used by select women artists to celebrate the groundbreaking work of Dutch engraver Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717). Merian was a seventeenth-century naturalist and botanical illustrator whose hand-colored engravings depict insects on their host plants in various life stages. Her prints are recognized as the first illustrations of scientific accuracy rather than speculation. In 1699, she and her daughter sailed to the Dutch colony of Surinam, where they collected insects and drew illustrations for The Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam, in which she was the first to study and illustrate insect metamorphosis, challenging the contemporary notion that insects were “born of mud” by spontaneous generation and upending the scientific understanding of the era.

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