“I am eternally grateful to Hudson at Feature Inc., for his long view and clear vision. Renny Pritikin, curator extraordinaire, has supported my art practice for twenty-six years now by getting my work out of the studio and into public view. The Marin Arts Council and the George Sugarman Foundation have helped fund my continued research, as have those who bought the original paintings. Richard Lang, Noah Lang, and David Salgado at Trillium Press are delightful human beings; the whole crew there made this project a pleasure. Sincere thanks to Ryan Phelan, Stewart Brand, Tomi Pierce, Doug Carlston, Peter Warshall, and Julia Berger—the deep well of your generous friendship helped these and other works evolve. My husband, Chris Tellis, has been both champion and cheering section, even through the rough parts. Our son, Nate Tellis, is a gentle, yet astute critic.
I was first exposed to the behind-the-scenes workings of a natural history museum when I signed up for an “introduction to taxidermy” course at the California Academy of Sciences in 1978. (As a dare, my father said he would pay for the class if I would stuff a pair of American woodcock for him; they turned out beautifully.) It took another twenty-plus years for my childhood interest in nature to ripen, mature, and marry my artwork. In the late 1990s, research for the “Taxa” paintings led me back into the interiors of natural history museums. John McCosker made me feel welcome in that world and reopened the door to Cal Academy for me. The Academy and its director, J. Patrick Kociolek, have graciously accepted me as a member of their community. I feel blessed every time a biologist or academic, deeply engrossed in his or her own work, makes time to help me in my line of inquiry. These generous souls have done so repeatedly: botanist Frank Almeda, herpetologist Jens Vendum, entomologists Norman Penny and Brian Fisher, and librarian Larry Currie, all currently at CAS, as well as former Academy ornithologist Douglas Long and librarian Anne Malley.
Edward O. Wilson at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology and Peter Raven at the Missouri Botanical Gardens have provided profound inspiration and encouragement. Naomi Pierce at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology; Joel Craycraft at the American Museum of Natural History; Clyde Imada at the Bishop Museum; Daniel Graf at the Academy of Natural Sciences; Barbara Errter at the Jepson Herbarium, the University of California at Berkeley; Dan Janzen at the University of Pennsylvania and the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Costa Rica; George McGavin at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History; Robert Prys-Jones, Mark Adams, and Michael Walters at the Bird Group, Natural History Museum, Tring; and Phillip Cribb at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, distinguished scientists all, have given me the benefit of their knowledge and granted me access to their libraries and collections, so that I might paint the plants and animals in these pictures more accurately.
Many other scientists and lay enthusiasts around the world, from a wide range of disciplines, have answered my naive questions with equanimity and patience and shared their expertise. Photographers, scientific illustrators, and other artists past and present have contributed to my perception of particular plants and animals. There is not room here to list each and every one who has aided and inspired, but please accept my thanks. I have tried to do justice to the species you helped me understand. With these “Taxa” paintings I hope to share this understanding, not only of the plants and animals themselves, but also of our own interdependence with all species.”
December 6, 2006