Beverly Penn works in bronze to create intricate sculptures of natural plant forms that question the fragile balance between the natural world and manufactured environments. If at first Penn’s sculptures appear rooted in the organic world, on second glance one may trace in them the history of human aesthetics. In the lace-like arrangements of plant forms one recognizes the botanical embellishments of the Victorians, and in their simple and compelling composition Penn’s works recall the forms of Classical architecture. Employing equal parts nature and ornament, Penn pulls her artistic vocabulary from both worlds.
Her historical influences are not accidental; Penn has traveled widely for the purpose of studying the decorative habits of Western civilization, and her work references a long account of organic ornamentation. “I’m very interested in not only the plants, but the intersection of where nature and culture make their dividing line and have boundaries that are crossed over time,” says Penn. “In many ways, they are at odds with each other but also in synthesis.”
Penn holds a BFA for the University of Texas at El Paso, a MA from New Mexico State University and MFA from SUNY New Paltz. She is professor at the School of Art and Design at Texas State University. Her work is collected around the country and she has received numerous fellowships including a Rockefeller Foundation residency in Bellagio, Italy; a Fulbright Fellowship in Barcelona, Spain; and nine Texas State University Faculty Research Grants for research in Mexico, Italy, Spain, and New York.