Married to Eugene Odum, the founder of modern ecology, Martha Odum’s eye was attuned to the web of life in the landscapes she loved to paint. Many of her works focus on areas such as the coast, the water’s edge, swamps and streams—all veritable cradles for evolution and life. Her vision of the landscape shows an energetic environment. She also created silver that used botanical and animal forms as inspiration.
This exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of UGA's Eugene P. Odum School of Ecology through selections of Martha Odum's watercolor paintings and silver, as well as supplementary works from the museum's collection that relate to ecology as a discipline. A chair with a rawhide seat from the 19th century demonstrates how the ecology of this region was changed by the trade in hides. Savannah River Valley potters made vessels from local natural materials, then glazed them with a wood ash mixture, at a time when wood as fuel seemed virtually limitless in the early Southeast. American Indian basketry illustrates the use of river cane, a material virtually destroyed by agricultural exploitation.
The art history of Georgia records the depletion of the area's natural resources but also presents the environment through the lens of wonder. The richness and complexity of ecological science provides a mindscape for many artists to approach the natural world.