“I believe that the taxonomic system Oiticica learned at the Museu Nacional provided the conceptual basis for the biological, organic framework of his oeuvre and for what the artist would later term his program-in-progress”
—Irene Small, author of Hélio Oiticica: Folding the Frame, University of Chicago Press
Artists have always been inspired by nature. Our most fundamental ideas about beauty, harmony, and form emerged from the disciplined observation of natural phenomena—of plants, animals, and the human body. For Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica, an apprenticeship to nature began at home, working for his famous entomologist father José Oiticica Filho at the Museu Nacional. The scientific systems organizing nature—taxonomy, evolution—organized his lifelong art practice. His artwork sought to transform the viewer, like a butterfly, from a social spectator into a political participant by inviting the human body to inhabit, animate, penetrate, and bring the work of art to life. Join Irene Small, Professor of Art History at Princeton University; Lynn Zelevansky, Director at Carnegie Museum of Art; Steve Tonsor, Director of Science at Carnegie Museum of Natural History; and John Rawlins, Curator for Invertebrate Zoology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in lively conversations about ideas that are common to both art and natural history. We will be venturing out into the galleries in smaller groups to explore behind-the-scenes collections with specialists and to discover unexpected commonalities at the crossroads of art and science.