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Animal kingdom coming to Ferndale library during art exhibition

August 28, 2014

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Ferndale artist Matt Paw will display his work depicting a blue jay during the Ferndale Public Library’s “Menagerie” art exhibit, which began Aug. 25 and runs through Oct. 11.

FERNDALE — Looking for a way to mix up the typical art shows the Ferndale Public Library has been hosting over the past few years, organizers have turned to the animal kingdom for a little inspiration.

The library’s seventh art exhibition, “Menagerie,” opened Aug. 25 and runs through Oct. 11 with a reception taking place from 7-9 p.m. Aug. 28.

Just as the name implies, the exhibit takes pieces of art contributed from 26 artists, each piece dealing with a part of the animal kingdom, and puts them on display at the library.

“This is our first animal-themed exhibition, and we are already seeing a positive response and positive expression from the artists, as they are very enthusiastic,” Exhibition Organizer Lindsey Harnish said. “We brainstorm on different show ideas, and an animal theme is something we all agreed on to be accessible for artists and accessible for the public and fun for everybody. We did some research to get animals from all areas, including birds, fish, insects and all classifications from the animal kingdom.”

Harnish said the exhibition has a blend of returning artists who have shown at the library before and new artists who are showing for the first time at the library. The range of mediums also is widespread, she said, and offers something for everyone.

“This show has more photography submissions, which is interesting because you wonder how people get out there and get good shots of animals, but there are some acrylic paintings and sculptures and the like,” Harnish said. “Animals are certainly really beautiful in and of themselves, and are great inspiration for art with a wide range of colors and forms in them. It is no surprise we have a lot of great work, and in our experience, people really respond to animal art and connect with that.”

Matt Paw, 30, of Ferndale, is showing for the first time at the library, but the exhibition couldn’t have been a better fit. Paw said his artwork deals primarily with animals, mostly birds, and explores various relationships animals have.

“I like to work with animals overall, and just the different processes of nature and relationships between birds and plants, and I even have a piece dealing with their relationship with an oak tree,” Paw said. “I used to work with more ideas of the animal nature of humans, but recently I started studying a lot of geometry and looking at the growth pattern and using geometrical shapes with animals and how they relate to their environment.”

Paw’s work is primarily in water color and ink for the show. He got his degree in sculpture from Wayne State University, but he started focusing more on painting over the past four years.

With the show taking place in a library, Paw said he thinks it will be a hit as people can see the link between animals and the surroundings.

“I think if it was just in a traditional gallery, maybe the concept wouldn’t be as strong to me,” he said. “There are a lot of animal analogies in literature and storytelling, especially in myths, and with the library being the community hub of knowledge, it can help take the exhibit back to a more primal idea of animals.”

Peggy Kerwan, 52, of Novi, will be showing at the library for a fourth time following her showings at the library’s two “For the Love of Reading,” exhibits and another show last year.

Kerwan, who uses a wide range of mediums, said having one theme with more than 20 artists offers viewers a chance to see several different sides of animals.

“I think people, especially when you have a theme, you get interpretations of all the different artists, which is usually very varied even in a themed show,” she said. “When you do a solo show, you can put anything in it you want, but with a theme, you think you have seen it all but you go in and you haven’t. People always have a different idea on the theme.”

The Ferndale Public Library is located at 222 E. Nine Mile Road. For more information on the exhibition, visit

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