From Plant Press, Vol. 19, No. 4, October 2016.
By Alice Tangerini & Robin Everly, with contributions by Sara Cardello
This year, Smithsonian Libraries has been expanding its offering of outreach events to the Smithsonian staff and visitors. In August 2016, Alice Tangerini was the guest speaker for an outreach program the Libraries is calling “Indoor Recess.” Indoor Recess, created and managed by the Libraries’ education specialist Sara Cardello, is a monthly program that began in February 2016. It is a way for the Libraries to showcase their spaces, collections, and staff to an audience they are not often reaching, a younger millennial crowd. The rationale for Indoor Recess is to offer a program where learning takes place, but is more casual and playful during the work day. It is also a way to reach out to museum staff and, in this case, feature the world of botanical illustration.
Luckily, Tangerini likes to do outreach to all types of groups, so this gave her a chance to discuss her job and botanical illustration with a new group of people. Cardello worked with Tangerini to come up with the program and illustrations to be traced. Botany Librarian, Robin Everly, also worked with Cardello and Tangerini to display contemporary books on botanical illustration from the Botany and Horticulture Library. Amongst the many books on display was the folio sized Flores do Amazonas (1980) by Margaret Mee, a botanical illustrator of Amazonian plants.
Nevertheless, Tangerini’s presentation and art work, which was also on display, was the main event. Tangerini started by giving a presentation on being a botanical illustrator in the Botany Department. This was followed by participants using tracing paper and colored pencils and choosing one of four copied images from rare books to properly trace and color the image on the tracing paper. The participants displayed enthusiasm for the short 30 minutes they had for drawing. The four samples of art included Gloxinia and Dianthus from Gartenflora BD.2 (1853), Alpinia from Monandrian plants of the order Scitamineae: Liverpool: George Smith (1828) and Achimenes mexicana from Houtte, L. van, Flore des serres et des jardin de l’Europe, vol. 9 (1853).
For Everly and other participants, it was fun learning more about Tangerini’s job and helping to host an event which allows people to learn more about the Department of Botany and botanical illustration. Tangerini has been asked to do a similar evening program for Smithsonian Associates in early 2017.