Libby Byler’s “Forager” Opens at Laskey Gallery

By Caroline Adams 

From my office window, I have been able to watch spring bring Scarritt Bennett Center back to life. Redbuds, Cherry Blossoms, and Dogwood trees are all full with rich, colorful blossoms and carpenter bees are back to work. The labyrinth here at the Center is green with a refreshed energy and I have watched on as many people have taken advantage of a quiet walk in the sun around its path.  Nashvillians are finally coming out of hibernation- Spring is here!

However, Spring in Nashville is not all pink blossoms and walks in the sun. Our own Harpeth River was recently ranked 9th in the nation on the American Rivers’ “Most Endangered Rivers” list due to sewage and pollution.  Recent samples collected in our area’s groundwater report high contamination levels of coal and ash. There are more than 1300 endangered plant and animal species in the state today. Spring is here in Nashville, but enjoying a creation that hasn’t been affected by our urban jungle of pollution and concrete is becoming increasingly more difficult.

Thankfully, the restorative power of art is helping us fight for the beauty of our natural surroundings. Local artist Libby Byler invites a creative awareness towards these environmental concerns in her Laskey Art Gallery exhibit, “Forager.”  Her paintings, done on a beautiful, natural wood canvas, take us to a world where nature is untouched by damaging human industrialization.

From an early age, Byler learned to appreciate the beauty of nature and to take a stand when it is threatened. “I remember wanting to paint all of the billboards green,” Byler recalls of her childhood, “because they were marring the view of the landscapes.”

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Libby Byler, Lenoir City, gouache and egg tempera on wood, 2015

Byler’s paintings reimagine the landscapes she loves as if the hand of human “progress” hadn’t pushed them aside. On her inspiration for this exhibit she writes, “I started by looking at the beauty of the landscape, places unmarred by the ways we lose that beauty. I would isolate areas, crop out the roads and telephone poles, finding the heart of the place.”  That is what this exhibit does:  it reminds us of the importance place and the presence of beauty. And Byler is the “Forager” behind these works, the eye that re-forms the beauty and the places that we risk losing forever.

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Libby Byler, Savannah, GA, gouache and egg tempera on wood, 2015

Exhibit Opening and Artist’s Reception for Libby Byler’s “Forager” will be held April 16, 2015 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the Laskey Gallery and is free and open to the public. “Forager” will run through July 7, 2015.

Gallery Hours:

Monday through Saturday 8:00 a.m. -9:00 p.m.

Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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Caroline Adams is an Assistant Director of Education, Programming and Connections at Scarritt Bennett Center. She works primarily with Spiritual Formation programming which includes programs such as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers and All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, and the Laskey Gallery. She holds a Masters of Divinity and a Certificate in Religion and the Arts in Contemporary Culture from Vanderbilt Divinity School.