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Natural selection

The Art & Environment Gallery at the Dana Building welcomes its second show. The new exhibit, “Drawing on Nature,” features the science illustrations of Joe Trumpey, a University of Michigan professor of art and design.

The Art & Environment Gallery uses the greenest building on the campus of the University of Michigan as a backdrop to draw attention to nature and its intersecting influence on the fields of science and art.

The Art & Environment Gallery features work from local and national artists whose work speaks to how people interact and understand the environment. The inaugural exhibition, “Watershed Moment,” featured the work of Ann Arbor artist Leslie Sobel and five pieces exploring landscapes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


Before joining the University of Michigan faculty in 1994, Joe Trumpey was chief medical illustrator and director of graphic arts for the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. While at U-M, he founded and currently directs Michigan Science Art, one of the largest groups of science illustrators working together in North America. Their most notable achievement is the completion of approximately 5,000 illustrations for the award-winning, 17-volume Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia.

Trumpey’s teaching focuses on experiential observation, drawing connections with the natural world. The cornerstone of his work as an educator is an annual field-sketching course in which students meet during winter term and then conduct two to four weeks of fieldwork at locations such as Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Cultural site in New Mexico, Everglades National Park, the Four Corners region, Yellowstone National Park, Costa Rica, and southern Africa. The course, which is cross-listed with the School of Natural Resources and Environment, collaborates with Michigan elementary and middle schools via the EcoExplorers Program developed by Trumpey.

With its emphasis on biodiversity, modern agriculture and ecological sustainability, Trumpey’s creative work has been exhibited in a wide variety of venues across the country. The depth of his devotion to these issues is evident in the fact that he lives and works on a small farm dedicated to preserving the genetic diversity of rare livestock.

As a freelance design consultant and illustrator, Trumpey has worked with the Toledo Zoo, the Detroit Zoo, the Smithsonian / National Zoo, the North Carolina Zoo, Houghton Mifflin Publishing, Wolfe Publishing, Lippincot Publishing, Gale / Thompson Publishing, Mosby Publishing, ScienceWorks, Inc., Appleton and Lang Publishing, Glaxo-Welcome Pharmaceuticals, and Stackpole Publishing. He has also conducted independent research in Kenya.