Peggy MacNamara

Gallery Affiliations: Packer Schopf Gallery

Region: Midwest

My work has always been concerned with the intricacies of observation. The unifying factor of these observations is Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. As Artist in Residence, my work over the past twenty five years has been drawn from public exhibits, architecture, artifacts and zoological collections.

While working on "Illinois Insects" published in 2005, I came across a number of collection cabinets in one of the subfloors of the Insect department. These cabinets held the life's work of Robert E. Gregg, an entomologist who traveled the world collecting insects and their nests. All the specimens were stored in boxes labeled as to location species, date, etc. I found myself looking at new material. The forms were intricate, deliberate and incredibly efficient.. The insect-architects recycled natures' refuse in order to create these unique sculptures. These collections led to my study of birds nests.

Close scrutiny of these unusual objects often illuminates artistic principles. For example John Ruskin's Law of Repetition, "...Another important means of expressing unity is to mark some kind of sympathy among the differnt objects ( of a composition) group imitates or repeats another like a far away and broken echo of it." Most of Ruskins Laws of Composition are adhered to by insects. In other word, observing nature teaches me how to make art and, in turn, the artistic process reflects many of the basic scientific truths of nature.

My painting process is a form of active meditation-I concentrate so completely on my painting that everything else seems to slip away. The work is about intense observation and gradual understanding. This recorded form of meditation is meant to give me understanding. The Field Museum, its collections , curators and community have been a constant source of inspiration to me. I hope to continue to find new ways to bring their treasures to light.