Reporters may contact: Janet Ragland
SMU News and Information
(214) 768-7650


June 19, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- The work of local botanical artists will be on display at Southern Methodist University in the Mildred Hawn Gallery at the Hamon Arts Library, 6100 Hillcrest Ave., from July 5 through Aug. 24. The work was produced as part of a series of classes on botanical art taught by SMU Informal Courses instructor Cynthia Padilla and is presented by SMU's Informal Courses for Adults program.

The genre of art known as "botanical" is a unique blend of art and science. Whether the purpose of the artist is chiefly art or chiefly science, the best works in the field always combine aesthetic appeal with an accuracy of detail that comes from close observation and objective rendering of the subject. The use of pictures to identify, analyze and classify plants dates back to classical times, when physicians depended on "herbals" -- an illustrated reference guide to medicinal plants.

In the scientific mode, botanical illustrations depict the overall habits of the plant, including a life-sized view of the entire plant, complete with the roots and drawings of the various parts of the plant -- flower, fruit and seed. Even in the non-technical mode, these conventions are followed, lending a distinctive aesthetic appeal.

Since the 1970s, botanical art has enjoyed a renewal of interest among both artists and collectors, accompanying an increased public interest in gardening and in environmental issues. The current revival of interest in botanical art is thought to reflect an overall desire for connection with the natural world in response to an increasingly high-tech culture.

Students in beginning and intermediate botanical art courses produced the work in this exhibit through the SMU's Informal Courses program, which offers a wide range of classes in the arts, including calligraphy, bookbinding, Zen painting, fashion illustration, landscape design and photography. For a catalog or further information about art and gardening classes, call (214) 768-5376 or visit the website at

Regular operating hours of the Hamon Arts Library are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and until 10 p.m. on Thursdays when summer classes are in session. The Hamon Arts Library is closed Saturdays and Sundays during the summer.