“Patricia Traub’s harmonious menagerie echoes Edward Hicks’s Peacable Kingdom for a 21st century audience. Hicks, a Quaker preacher, painted over sixty variations on the Bible passage from Isaiah that offers a vision of peace among creatures that would by nature eat one another. His 19th-century images conjure a world redeemed from sin, aspiring to a state of grace before the Maker. Traub’s paintings resound in an era for which ecology and redemption are an urgent, tangible need dependent on action. Small groups of animals and their human companions wait in the darkness of Traub’s shrine-like paintings. These stark, hushed settings contrast with Hicks’s verdant life at the edge of forests. They compel meditation on the here and now, never mind the hereafter.” From the exhibition essay by Robert Cossolino, Curator of Painting at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
Traub’s empathy and activism coalesce in closely studied wildlife vignettes. She depicts mostly mammals and birds, standing before the viewer in resolute posture against the deep soot of the universe. Traub effortlessly “humanizes” her subjects, conveying the individual, its fur, feathers, gesture and weight, that carry the signs of a distinctive being. In doing so she draws out the consciousness of each Colobus Monkey or Buffalo Weaver, in compositions resembling a modern day Albretch Dürer. To unpack the significance of each subject, Traub notes every animal has a specific petition, for example, the Rambouillet Ram is bred for its merino wool and is a cornerstone of the meat trade. By isolating the animals on sterile precipices of rectangular earth Traub places the animal on display. This reinforces our shared human jurisdiction over their stewardship while avoiding maudlin bromides.
For her inaugural show, Patricia Traub exhibits small paintings measuring 12” x 12” that focus on a single animal. In addition she exhibits several large, complex works that intermingle animals and human keepers, the largest of these measuring 7 feet wide. Traub only studies animals from direct observation. She studies her subjects in captivity and their natural habitats resulting in global travel including Borneo, Egypt, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Norway, South Africa, and Tanzania. Through postures and poses she conveys, a serene sense of equilibrium among the species, one to which she pledges a vigilant watch. She says, “The underlying context in my painting is about our responsibilities to all living things and the environment we all live in.”