On the Verge puts the focus on endangered animals and is a tribute to the work of zoos in caring for animals, as well as their work in educating the public. Bringing attention to zoos and other wildlife facilities which persevere in the protection of wildlife is the artists’ primary goal. The Houston Zoo receives a special nod as it has been a constant source of inspiration for Spjut.
“Many species are endangered, extinct in the wild, or extinct altogether. Once a species is gone, it is gone forever,” explains Susan. Therefore, she uses her art to help raise awareness of this threat reminding us that, “human existence relates to all life forms on our planet.” Michael Bonagurio’s nature photography is a complementary balance to Susan Spjut’s exquisite animal paintings.
The artwork for this show began with inspiration from the Galapagos Islands. “Since taking a family trip to some of the islands in the Galapagos archipelago in 2012, Michael and I have enjoyed photographing animals and nature. Our world is endless in its wonder; I find it to be a constant source of beauty, interest, and awe,” comments Susan. In addition to the Galapagos Islands, the Houston Zoo and Texas State Parks have served as inspiration for Susan and Michael. Both artists have concerns about the Earth’s environment and the dwindling of natural resources which in turn places many wildlife species “on the verge” of extinction.
Susan Spjut graduated from the University of St. Thomas in 1976 with a degree in nursing. Later she pursued her life-long passion by studying art at the University of Houston where her focus was on oil painting and texture. Through her paintings Susan tries to capture what it is about wild animals that fascinates her then shares that with viewers; the hope is to form a connection between humans and the wild.
Michael Bonagurio graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in Psychology and currently works with autistic children in Austin, Texas. Michael, born and raised in Houston, recalls the childhood trips he and his mother, Susan, took to the Houston Zoo. Mother and son appreciate the effort made by the zoo to create better environments for the animals in their care
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