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Nicolet College - - Amphibian art and education in the Nicolet Art Gallery Feb. 5, 6


 

Frogtastic! amphibian art and education
Feb. 5, 6, at Nicolet College Art Gallery

 

Nicolet College will host amphibian-related art classes and education programs with live specimens on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5 and 6, to raise awareness about Wisconsin’s native frogs.

The talks and classes - which are free and open to the public - are part of Nicolet’s current art exhibition, A Celebration of Frogs, a collection of paintings by Three Lakes artist Brad Davis and photographs by herpetologist and wildlife photographer Dan Nedrelo.

The program runs from 1.30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, and 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“It’s a great way for people to interact with, and learn about, frogs,” says Davis, “and kids can create their own frog art to take home with them.”

Art and nature

During the weekend of activities, kids will have the chance to hold frogs, study frogs and draw frogs, says Davis, who taught art in England for several years before returning to Wisconsin.“It’s an excellent opportunity for children to connect with art and nature,” he said.

The educational and interactive element of the show struck a chord with Nicolet College Art Director Katy Ralph, who has enjoyed observing frogs in the wild since childhood, and has also noticed their decline with alarm.

“I’m always interested in shows that are different,” said Ralph. “And I especially like to have an educational component to an exhibit. The decline in the population of amphibians is due to a variety of causes – from destruction of habitat, disease and global climate change to the introduction of predators and competitors into their environment. My hope is that with this exhibition, we can help raise awareness of these issues and look at ways humans have contributed to their decline. Perhaps then we can find avenues to reverse this trend.”

Collaborative project

In this collaborative project, Nedrelo and Davis wanted to share their passion for amphibians, while educating the public about the devastation of pollution and loss of habitat to local populations. The combination of visual art and real-life encounters with Wisconsin’s native frogs, toads and salamanders is a perfect way for people to experience the beauty of amphibians. “We want people, especially children, to come away with a better understanding of these glorious creatures,” says Davis, who studied biology at Harvard under the renowned scientist and naturalist E.O. Wilson.

“Friends in Eagle River and Three Lakes are always saying how they don’t see many frogs around the lakes anymore. Sadly, a lot of people don’t realize the impact of pesticides on amphibians. Weed killer, for example, when sprayed on lawns, wipes out amphibians. The chemicals are also ingested by earthworms, insects and birds, and contaminate our soil and water. Would people continue spraying if they knew the deleterious effects? It’s all about education and awareness.”

 

Frogs and water quality

Nedrelo, based in Viroqua, agrees. “Frogs are one of the top biological indicators of environmental quality, particularly of water,” says Nedrelo, who studied herpetology at UW-Stevens Point and has worked for The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation and the Wisconsin DNR. “If we’re starting to pay attention to our amphibians, it’s a good change, because it means we are also noticing our water quality. Some of our very polluted rivers and wetlands might have a future.”

Both Nedrelo and Davis grew up with a fascination for frogs, and are attracted by their distinctive colors, choruses, and characters. “I was always the kid that had a bullfrog instead of a goldfish,” laughs Nedrelo, who now brings his education program with live animals, which includes frogs, to libraries and schools throughout the Midwest. “I love their colors and behavior. Frogs are a fun animal for everyone. People need a good introduction to nature, because the more experiences people have, the more respect they have.”

 

Education Program times

All events are held at Nicolet College Art Gallery, located in the Learning Resources Center on the Rhinelander campus. The schedule of events is as follow:

Friday February 5: Art class with Brad Davis from 1.30 – 3 p.m.

Educational Program & live specimens with Dan Nedrelo 3.30 – 5 p.m.

Frog Talk with Brad and Dan followed by refreshments 5 p.m.

 

Saturday February 6: Art Class with Brad Davis 10- 11 a.m.

Educational Program & live specimens with Dan Nedrelo 11 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.

For more information, please contact Katy Ralph at (715) 365-4556, Brad Davis (715) 617-1575 or at www.lonestonestudio.com, or Dan Nedrelo at nedrelolectures@yahoo.com.