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Refuge Reflections opens at Nature Art Gallery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 2, 2011      
Arts, Entertainment, Travel Editors. Images available.    
Contact: Emelia.Cowans@naturalsciences.org; 919.733.7450, x305

Refuge Reflections: Haven for Wildlife, Sanctuaries for the Human Spirit opens at NCMNS Nature Art Gallery

Bear standing in wheat field(Raleigh)—The Nature Art Gallery at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences showcases North Carolina wildlife photography during the months of December and January. Museum educator and wildlife photographer Mike Dunn will exhibit a series of photographs taken at national wildlife refuges, national parks and other public and private sanctuaries in a show entitled Refuge Reflections: Haven for Wildlife, Sanctuaries for the Human Spirit beginning Friday, December 2, 2011 and running through January 22, 2012.

Dunn will be in the gallery Friday, December 2 from 6:30–8:30 pm to meet patrons at an opening reception. It will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about wildlife in North Carolina and to view his compelling images of black bears and migratory waterfowl and the landscapes they inhabit.

"Many of these images were taken in places designated for the protection of their natural resources, which provide havens for wildlife.  But a number of these images come from personal places of refuge,” says Dunn. “We all need to play a role in providing refuges for wildlife in our communities, on our school grounds, or in our yards. There is growing evidence pointing to the important role that wild places play in sustaining human minds, bodies and spirits. I hope the images in this exhibit inspire you to make a connection with the natural world and to work on its behalf, whether in supporting conservation initiatives or creating places for wildlife in your yard.”

Dunn was exposed to nature early in his childhood by his father through hunting, fishing and boating trips. He began taking pictures with a small instamatic camera. In high school he graduated to a Super 8 film camera, recording hours of film of critters around his Virginia home. Then came the Minolta SLR and he amassed countless slides of plants, animals and landscapes. He earned a degree in biology at Virginia Tech and a Masters from the University of Virginia in Environmental Sciences. While pursuing a PhD at North Carolina State University he began working at Umstead Park which set him on the path to working outside and teaching people about nature.

He worked with North Carolina State Parks for eight years before coming to the Museum where he works with teachers and students primarily giving five to six programs a day on a variety of natural science topics. When the museum received a grant combining teacher education with creating wildlife habitat on school grounds he began his current work with the museum. Twenty-two years later he says, “ I still think I have one of the best jobs ever, sharing my love of nature with educators across the state in wild areas of NC and beyond.”

Through it all, photography has played an important role. His favorite places to photograph include Chatham County where he lives, Yellowstone National Park and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge near Plymouth, North Carolina. Photography is his tool for opening people’s eyes to the beauties, mysteries and magic of the natural world that often go unnoticed. One of his favorite quotes is by poet Mary Oliver, “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” Photography is Mike’s way of telling about it, of sharing his passion with others.

In addition to designing and conducting hundreds of workshops on natural history throughout the state on subjects ranging from wildflowers to wildlife, he has had numerous articles published in Wildlife in North Carolina, Carolina Country, Fifteen-501 and is a frequent contributor to the Museum’s own publication, the North Carolina Naturalist.

He has shown his work in the Nature Art Gallery previously as well as at the North Carolina Aquariums and has taught several courses on wildlife photography including at the Pocosin Arts Folk School in Columbia, North Carolina. He is also a judge for the annual Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition sponsored by the Museum and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. His advice to aspiring wildlife photographers is simple. “Get a decent lens, get to know your subject, and learn to be patient. Then just get outside and do it. Become a ‘woods watcher’ and you will begin to capture stunning images. Share your passion with others.”

The Nature Art Gallery is located on the mezzanine of the Museum Store. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm; Sunday, Noon to 5 pm; and open until 9 pm on First Fridays. All exhibited art is for sale.  For more information about the Nature Art Gallery, call 919.733.7450, x369.

First Friday is a free, family-friendly, social event held the first Friday of each month at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.  Visitors can enjoy exhibits, shopping, food and spirits until 9pm. The Natural Horror Picture Show (a vintage, sci-fi flick of 'B' movie caliber) begins at 7 pm. Arrive early for live music and a film short from the A/V Geek archives.  For information, call 919.733.7450, x379.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 West Jones St., Raleigh, documents and interprets natural history of the state of North Carolina through exhibits, research, collections, publications and educational programming. Find more information online at naturalsciences.org. Hours: Mon-Sat., 9am-5pm and Sun., Noon-5pm. General admission is free. The Museum is an agency of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary.

Publish Date: 
Friday, December 2, 2011