Young Curators: Human, Nature

May 17 – August 24, 2024


The Zillman Art Museum is delighted to present this selection of artwork chosen by its 2024 Young Curators; Teddy Dickson-Smith (Orono High School) and Cody Fortier (Brewer High School). This innovative program is unique to the Zillman and provides high school students an in-depth opportunity to experience the inner workings of an art museum as well as collaborate together to create an exhibition from the Museum’s permanent collection. 

Human, Nature highlights two-dimensional artwork that relates and responds to issues of humanity and human interaction with nature. In Atlantico Series #7, Mimmo Paladino illustrates a scene that could be considered religious by its use of symbolism; the wine glass, a small, bound figure within a larger body, and a bird in the foreground. Paladino’s mark making is captivating and varied. Young Curator Cody Fortier interprets this imagery as the search for purpose amidst a crumbling world.  

The woodblock print, Common Tongue by John Buck, is a complex work that is rich in metaphor. Buck is commenting on history and society through his use of images – a planet confined behind bars, a boiling cauldron with USA written on the side, and architecture that appears to be St. Basil’s in Red Square, Russia.  The print is dominated by two snakes, which often represent death or destruction but can also suggest rebirth and transformation. Buck’s bold use of color pulls the viewer in to decipher the images and their meaning. 

Amos by Leonard Baskin is a dark and contemplative woodblock print created with stark, bold lines that exhibit erratic movement and tormenting stillness. The deep black of the background, set against a lone, tired face, creates a feeling of despair and defeat. The downward tilt of the figure’s eyebrows leads to a tangled mess at his chin, a trail of tears or scars are created by the lines on his cheek. The degradation of the human spirit and reduction of the body to dark segments is a common theme in Baskin’s work. The familial influence of his father, a rabbi, and Baskin’s faith as a Jewish man was evident throughout his career.  

The works in Human, Nature are connected by the theme of humanity. Glimpses are offered into the harsh realities of combat and conflict in The Promised Land by Robert Rivers, in distinct contrast to the harmonious nature of the anthropomorphic flowers in Two Snapdragons by Andrea Sulzer. The selections offer visitors a space for introspection and analysis of how humanity is rendered and considered by many artists. 


  • Baskin, Leonard (American, 1922 – 2000). Amos, 1960. Woodcut. Gift of Ernest Lowenstein, Roten Galleries, 67.22.G
  • Buck, John (American, born 1946). A Common Tongue, 1991. Woodblock. Bequest of Robert Venn Carr Jr., Class of 1938, 2004.9.14
  • Butler, Tom (American, born 1979). Both works: Gouache on Victorian albumen silver print. Museum purchase: Stebbins and Schildknecht Art Fund
    • Untitled , 2010. 2011.10.2
    • Untitled, 2010. 2011.10.3
  • Gisholt, Alfredo (Mexican, born 1971). Both works: Etching. Gift of the artist
    • Canto General, 2013. 2014.16.6
    • Canto General, 2013. 2014.16.4
  • Kitaj, R.J. (American, 1932 – 2007). Michael Hamburger, 1974. Screenprint. Gift of Dr. Harold C. Urshel, 79.62.4
  • Paladino, Mimmo (Italian, born 1948). Atlantico Series #7, 1987. Linocut with collograph. Gift of Robert Venn Carr Jr., Class of 1938, 88.14.5
  • Rivers, Robert (American, born 1950). The Promised Land, 2010-2012. Mixed media. Gift of Peggy and Robert Rivers, 2013.7
  • Sulzer, Andrea (American, born 1961). Two Snapdragons, 2015. Woodblock. Museum purchase, 2018.10