January 20 through June 8
Opening reception February 10, 2023 | 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Church Gallery, Lyman Plant House

“Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” – Leonardo da Vinci

With their living, ever-changing plant collections, the glasshouses of Lyman have been an inspirational setting for students at Smith for over 100 years. For the past three semesters, it has been a pleasure to teach within Lyman Plant House and to collaborate with botanic garden horticulturists for a few days each semester. In the plant houses, the Drawing I and Studio Art Foundations students studied plant structure, form, and function, while focusing on basic sculpture or drawing concepts as our point of departure. The Studio Art Foundations class also used branches, roots, and other natural materials collected from the garden and arboretum in or as inspiration in some of their sculpture work. 

The opportunity to escape to the otherworldly charm of the conservatory and interact directly with the space, its collections, and with the people responsible for its care was meaningful to all of us. The students worked in every plant house and lab, even having a few nighttime drawing sessions when the inside was lit up and surrounded by the outside darkness. This experience allowed students to observe their work from different perspectives through their interactions with the horticulturists, plant house staff and visitors. The garden gave students a place to create expressive, site-responsive pieces and be excited about the natural world. I am proud of these students, their openness, curiosity, and dedication to create artwork that is visually inspiring, informed by science, and tells a story of the artists’ making.

Susan Montgomery
Lecturer in Art, Smith College

Art studios are a place for artists to bring their experiences of the world and translate that into artistic forms. There is a long and storied tradition of artists being inspired by the natural world. Our class worked with botanists and educators at Lyman Plant House to learn to see nature’s physical beauty from a scientific perspective. The plant houses became our studio as we spent time observing, sketching and sculpting within the glass walls. We took inspiration from the scientific makeup of plants, plant structures, the repeated forms in nature, and the beautiful, whimsical nature of the rare and more common plants that we learned about. Come experience the world through our eyes. 

Isa Norris-Howard ’26 and Ciara McKay ’24
Student Art Foundations Fall 2022


Participating classes:
Studio Art Foundations, Fall 2022
Drawing I, Spring 2022
Drawing I, Fall 2021

Studio Art Faculty:
Susan Montgomery, Lecturer in Art

Collaboration with Botanic Garden Staff:
Jimmy Grogan, Conservatory Curator
Lily Carone, Greenhouse Horticulturist
Sarah Loomis, Manager of Education

Drew Palmore, Hillyer Woodshop
Jon Cartledge, Imaging Center
Luke Blevins, Imaging Center