ART@BTI: milly acharya

by | Jun 2, 2014

milly acharya

Now on display, through July 23, Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Science, 533 Tower Road, Ithaca.

Boyce Thompson Institute, often referred to as BTI, is a private non-profit located at 533 Tower Road on the Cornell campus in a building owned by New York State.  17 scientists conduct cutting edge plant science research in a number of fields including genomics, bioinformatics, and biochemistry.  BTI’s mission is ‘to advance and communicate scientific knowledge in plant biology to improve agriculture, protect the environment, and enhance human health.“

milly acharya is an Ithaca-based artist who has been recognized nationally for her exceptional botanical illustrations.  Over the years the American Society of Botanical Artists/Horticultural Society of New York has awarded milly their Award of Excellence, Best of Show, Best Painting, and  in 2011 she won the Lifetime Achievement Award of the ASBA, the American Society of Botanical Artists.

milly calls herself a ‘conservative traditionalist (!), aiming at complete and accurate documentation of the plant specimen she has chosen to portray. She asks us to picture this:

  • A blank sheet of paper beside a robust, thriving botanical specimen.
  • Task at hand: accurate documentation, detailing phases of botanical development while preserving the vitality of the ever-mutable living plant.
  • Approach: a brush dipped in clear water following the direction of growth, then the first faint traces of paint, without preliminary sketches or drawing, entrusting the plant’s natural design to determine composition and communicate its own aesthetic power.
  • Result: the brush, the hand and the eye meet the plant and honor its brief moment of glory in a portrait so precise and exact that you should be able to taste or smell the subject!’


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