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Strange and Marvelous ‘Natural Findings’ on View

January 30, 2014 03:35 PM  

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Cheryle St. Onge

A wasp nest photograph from Cheryle St. Onge’s “Natural Findings” that is being shown at Clark University.

Nature and beauty are what drive New Hampshire photographer Cheryle St. Onge. A contributor to Design New England (a stunning gallery of her view of the Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show will appear in our upcoming March/April issue), St. Onge photographs architecture, animals, and her family and friends. But pieces from “Natural Findings,” her collection of photos that document the intrigue of nature, is what’s making its way into art exhibits this winter.

Rick Wester Fine Art in New York City chose pieces from “Natural Findings” to join work by four other artists for Not Long Hidden, an exhibit on view through March 1. Meanwhile, Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where St. Onge studied fine arts and then taught photography for more than a decade, will exhibit pieces in Art After Clark opening in the Schiltkamp Gallery February 12, with a reception at 4:30 p.m.

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Cheryle St. Onge

A photograph of a duckling being shown at Clark University.

“The photographs began with the idea, that our early foray into the natural world is not only innate, it is familial,” says St. Onge. “They explore the curiosity and awe of our early grasp of nature; a paper wasp nest that appears dropped from Mars, the frog egg masse that on close inspection, possible through a photograph, becomes a gelatinous constellation of soon to be tadpoles.”

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Cheryle St. Onge

A jar of gelatinous tadpoles at Rick Wester Fine Art.

Working with an 8-by-10-inch camera, St. Onge positions her subject or subjects so that they take up most of the rectangular. The “findings” are not so much outrageous as rare for most people who don’t experience the rural countryside where St. Onge’s wasp nests, baby ducklings, and snakeskins are found. Even when such specimens are encountered, they aren’t seen with the childlike wonder of seeing them for the first time. St. Onge captures that awe-inspiring moment of fascination in her alluring photographs, reminders that nature is beautiful, strange, and marvelous.

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Cheryle St. Onge

Holding snakeskins in a photograph at Rick Wester Fine Art.

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Cheryle St. Onge

A photograph of a clover pressed, part of “Natural Findings.”

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Cheryle St. Onge

A photo of a moth, part of “Natural Findings.”

To assemble the collection of photographs and their presence in two exhibits, collaboration was important. St. Onge credits family members and friends who venture out into New Hampshire’s woods and down to the coast to discover and present their finds to her camera. Her husband, Vince Todd of V. Todd & Company, a cabinetry shop in Lee, New Hampshire, constructed custom frames from local pine for the exhibited photographs.

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The photographs hang in a grid at Rick Wester Fine Art, accented with pine frames that were custom made by Vince Todd.

Not Long Hidden, Rick Wester Fine Art,
511 West 25th Street, Suite 205, New York, New York; exhibit through March 1; rickwesterfineart.com.

Art After Clark, Clark University, 950 Main St, Worcester, Massachusetts; February 12. clarku.edu.

Great design is always at your fingertips! Read the January/February 2014 issue online!

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About this blog

An insider's look at must-have products, fresh trends, and inspired spaces from the team at Design New England magazine.

Gail Ravgiala is editor of Design New England and a fan of both the region's historic architecture and its growing inventory of modern houses and public buildings.

Courtney Kasianowicz is associate editor of Design New England who scouts the area for new design, charming products, and local artisans both innovative and daring.

Jill Connors, Design New England's editor-at-large, is an antiques maven and design scout and will post about trends and discoveries in the field.

Bruce Irving, Design New England's contributing editor for architecture & building, is a renovation specialist who will share his insights on design and construction.

Estelle Bond Guralnick, Design New England's style & interiors editor, will post about interior design and interior designers and her favorite finds.

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