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Bestiary

Mary Vernon, Professor of Art at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts

The animal world gives us images of beings beyond human quirks and dangers. As symbols, as emblems, and as narrative figures, the animals, our cousins, are our shadow selves. The poet Mary Oliver said:

“here is such shyness, such courage!
here is the shining rudimentary soul”

Yet one of Thomas Edison’s early movies is about electrocuting Topsy the elephant, while we can’t resist cat pictures on the internet, and Frans de Waal reminds us how smart they are. In a time when Barnum and Bailey promises to retire elephants rather than kill them, and Roger Thwaites and Charles Foster write books about how to become animals, we should attend to animal images in film, in photography, and in painting.

Class materials [password-protected]

Four Thursdays, May 4, 11, 18, &  25; 6:30 pm to 8:30
Members $110, Non-members $125, Member Teachers $35
At the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture (2719 Routh Street, Dallas, 75201)
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About Mary Vernon

Prof. Mary Vernon
Prof. Mary Vernon

Mary Vernon serves as Professor of Art at Southern Methodist University. She teaches painting and drawing, and SMU’s noted color theory course. She was born in New Mexico, educated at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Mary Vernon has shown her work in France, Hungary, Chile, and Kazakhstan, as well as nationally, and is represented by Valley House Gallery of Dallas. Collections that include her work are: The Belo Foundation, The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, SMU’s University Art Collection, The Dallas Country Club, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center: William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, and Ebby Halliday Realtors, along with many private collectors.

Mary Vernon writes: “I grew up in the Pecos valley, in Southern New Mexico. The land outside the valleys is desert land, of subtle and nuanced color, its variation great, its values pale, its shadows intense and chromatic. The painted, wooden Santos bore saturated, matte-finished coats of paint, and the Immaculate Conception statue in the local church had a blue neon halo. The rocks my father used to build our house held grays worthy of Whistler. In the valleys, the wind more often than not tossed the leaves of the willows, apple trees, pecans, and lilacs about in the air so that all the complex greens were dulled and robbed of their glossy surfaces. The weather announced itself days ahead of time by minute changes in the sky. Gardens of hollyhocks, daisies, and old asparagus grew quickly and made dense patterns. That landscape taught me what to look for.”

BFA, MA, University of New Mexico

Professor Vernon’s Gallery

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