Exhibit: Urban Wildlife: Learning to Co-Exist


RISD ISB GALLERY DateS: July 25-Aug 18, 2018


We invited artists to collaborate with scientists to create art for an exhibit that explores the lives of wild animals in urban areas and the human responses to this shared territory. Our goal is to encourage the viewing public to take an active role in healthy co-existence with urban animals.



We define “urban wildlife” for this exhibit as any species of animal that is native or introduced, but not domesticated or feral, living freely in close proximity to people (villages, towns, cities) anywhere in the world. The animals could include invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Expansion of villages, towns, and cities creates new homes for some animals, even as it displaces others. The results are often problematic. Our scientific understanding of the actions we need to take in order to live in balance with urban wildlife is an important part of the solution. Science (urban ecology) can provide the guidelines, but we need motivation to follow them. There is an equally important need to help more people understand that humans and animals are interdependent, and that our continued success depends on a diverse and healthy animal kingdom.


Submitted artwork reflects the artist’s effort to explore, through a combination of independent research and collaboration with scientific experts, the basic biology of their selected animal or animals, its urban ecology, and the ways it interacts with humans. Evidence of this process of scientific exploration was one of the selection criteria. Check out our Urban Wildlife Google Drive folder for ideas. Scientific advisors were available to facilitate collaboration. Artists in the exhibit share their creative process in the form of an artist statement displayed with the work.



Artists planning to submit work for the exhibit are encouraged to notify the submissions coordinator Dr. Lucy Spelman by email at drlucy@creatureconserve.com with 1) the name of the animal(s) they are studying; 2) the location of the urban environment; and, 3) either the names of their collaborating scientist(s) or a request for help finding a collaborator or for research articles. One of our scientific advisors will respond with species-specific information, such as scientific articles, names and web addresses of conservation and wildlife management organizations with programs that focus on that species, and contact details for scientists and other experts who may be available for a call or meeting. A partial list of urban wildlife species in North America includes bats, bees, coyotes, deer, elk, foxes, moose, peregrine falcons, raccoons, and red-tailed hawks. In other parts of the world, the choices will differ. Elephants are considered urban in many parts of Africa and Asia, for example. The term “urban wildlife” is a paradoxical one in many ways; exploring it may yield more questions than answers.


The artwork could consider the following themes: Time—how the urban environment changes as species leave an area, or return to it and reconstruct their environments; Space—how to define an urban ecosystem which can be as tiny as a puddle or as large as Los Angeles; Displacement—how people and urban wild animals displace each other depending on the circumstance; Visibility/Invisibility—how many urban animals are rarely seen or heard and how those we do see are moving or feeding; Rhythms—when and where urban animals breed, give birth, sleep, or die in the city; Health—how pollution (noise, light, soil, water, air) negatively affects humans and wild animals living in urban areas.


This is a juried exhibit with a $10 entry fee (optional for RISD Alumni, Faculty and Students.) 100% of the submission fee goes to Creature Conserve to support the costs of organizing the exhibit and hosting a variety of public outreach events. If the fee presents a financial hardship, please request a fee waiver when you make your submission. Digital images of finished artwork or pre-proposals for planned work are due June 1. Artists will be notified by June 10.  Works are due in the gallery between July 10 and 15, 2018.


Two cash awards will be given: $500 Jurors’ Choice and $250 Honorable Mention.

LOCATIOn and dates

The exhibit premieres at the Rhode Island School of Design ISB Gallery from July 25 through August 22, 2018 and then moves to ArtProv Gallery from October 3 through November 9, 2018. From there, it will travel to other venues to be determined.

The RISD ISB Gallery is located at 55 Canal Walk in downtown Providence and receives hundreds of visitors a month during the summer. Special multimedia events organized during the four-week run of the exhibition will feature readings, writings, dance, music, and live animal demonstrations, as well as kid-friendly animal encounters. ArtProv Gallery, located in the Jewelry District’s historic Doran Building at 150 Chestnut Street in Providence is a contemporary art gallery featuring works that focus on color, texture, and expression. For more, see www.artprovidence.com.


Eligibility - Open to all local, national and international artists working in any media including animation, architecture, digital media, film video, glass, illustration, mixed media, painting, photography, and sculpture.

Conditions - Entries must be original artworks completed within the last three years, or pre-proposals for new work. Displays such as pedestals and mannequins will be available. Three-dimensional works should not exceed 75 lbs. Two-dimensional pieces should not exceed 48" on either side. Creature Conserve/RISD ISB Gallery/ArtProv Gallery each reserve the right to reject works deemed unstable, that differ from the submitted digital image or description of work, or that are not professionally presented.

Submissions - Artists should submit EITHER digital images of finished work OR a pre-proposal for planned work. Images should be at least 1 MB in size. Use the provided form to include information about each piece: Artist Name, Title, Year, Dimensions, Weight/Special Hanging Requirements, Medium, and Retail Price. Pre-proposals should include a paragraph description of the planned artwork, including size specifications and display requirements, and documentation of related works. See the entry form for details.

Entry Deadline - June 1, 2018

Entry Fee - $10 is due for each submission, paid either via donation to the Creature Conserve website or by check. Details are on the entry form. If you are unable to afford the fee, Creature Conserve has a limited amount of funding it can use offset the cost; please contact Dr. Lucy Spelman at (401) 924-4994 or drlucy@creatureconserve.com.

Jurors - Michele Aucoin, Gallery Director/ ArtProv Gallery, Charles Brown, Biologist, RI Department of Environmental Management, Susan Doyle, Associate Professor / Illustration Department Head / RISD, Traer Scott, Photographer / Creature Conserve Board Member, and Dr. Lucy Spelman, Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarian / Creature Conserve Founder

Notification - Accepted artists will be notified by June 10, 2018 by email. Every effort will be made to display all accepted work.

Delivery - Accepted submissions should be delivered to RISD ISB Gallery, Canal Walk, Providence, RI 02912 on the following days: July 10 – 15, 2018, between 11am – 4pm.

Shipping - Artists are responsible for shipping costs. Note that the exhibit will continue to travel to new venues after the ArtProv Gallery exhibit. Each participating artist will be given the opportunity to opt in or out of loaning their work to Creature Conserve for this purpose. If the work is being picked up or shipped back, the removal dates from ArtProv Gallery, 150 Chestnut Street, Providence, RI 02903 are November 12 – 16, 2018 between 11am – 4pm.

Insurance - Creature Conserve/RISD ISB Gallery/ArtProv Gallery each carries a blanket insurance policy covering fire, theft, and breakage. The insurance value is up to 50% of the retail price.

Sales Commission - While at RISD, the works will not be for sale. At ArtProv, the commission is 50%.

Publicity and PhotographySelected works will be displayed in galleries and on the Creature Conserve website. Creature Conserve/RISD/ArtProv Gallery reserves the right to photograph work for publicity. By entering work in the show, each artist agrees to the use of their name, likeness, and artwork in any publicity material developed for the exhibition in print or social media.

For examples of art informed by science exploration, please see the artwork and artists cards from our 2016 exhibit - also sponsored by Creature Conserve and RISD - at this link, "Wildlife Trade Art and Science."


  Crow, by Christina Ward

Crow, by Christina Ward

  Bountiful Harvest, by Emily Poole

Bountiful Harvest, by Emily Poole