Species of Artis­tic Beauty

Arabella - - ARTIST TO COLLECT - Writ­ten by Na­dia Ter­signi

The Wild Life

Ever since she was a tod­dler Lori Dunn has been fas­ci­nated by an­i­mals. What started with dig­ging earth­worms soon be­came col­lect­ing fire­flies in jars and then on to horses and ele­phants. Be­ing from a mil­i­tary fam­ily and hope­lessly shy, Lori found her­self mov­ing from base to base, town to town and un­able to connect in any mean­ing­ful long last­ing way, ex­cept with an­i­mals. "My par­ents saw me doo­dling in­tri­cately and in de­tail at an early age," says Lori, "and when I was 10 they en­rolled me in oil paint­ing classes. Colour the­ory, value aware­ness, and com­po­si­tion were im­por­tant lessons learned through th­ese early classes; but I quickly dis­cov­ered that paint­ing land­scapes in grand brush­strokes was not for me. I was too slow and spent too much time try­ing to paint the tee­ni­est de­tails." As a teenager she was drawing more and us­ing graphite for more con­trol over de­tail. Her pieces were even fea­tured in youth art shows and her par­ents, as well as her teach­ers, were en­cour­ag­ing her to pur­sue art as a ca­reer. "I en­joyed art but my real pas­sion was for wildlife," she ex­plains, "and the as­tound­ing mar­vels of evo­lu­tion and bio­di­ver­sity that I saw around me. I couldn’t get enough…i re­jected my par­ents no­tion of a "job" in­volv­ing art. I just wanted to do it when I felt like it, not at the whim of some­one else. I knew I had to work with an­i­mals in some ca­pac­ity, but not just do­mes­tics, and so af­ter high school I signed up for the zo­ol­ogy pro­gram at Guelph Uni­ver­sity. It sealed the deal for me…the count­less species to learn about, their anatomy, their be­hav­iour – I ab­sorbed it all." A few years into uni­ver­sity Lori went to visit her fa­ther who was sta­tioned in Vir­ginia. While down there for the sum­mer she man­aged to se­cure a vol­un­teer keeper’s aid po­si­tion at the Na­tional Zoo in Wash­ing­ton D.C. "They asked me what an­i­mals I would like to work with and I said quite firmly that I would be happy to work with any of the an­i­mals," Lori re­mem­bers. "They put me in the rep­tile house. Rep­tile keep­ers at that time were gen­er­ally men and also no­to­ri­ously stand­off­ish and gruff. They put me to work but once they saw my ded­i­ca­tion to­wards the job, took me un­der their wings… I ab­so­lutely loved ev­ery minute of it." Lori had be­come so popular that she was of­ten given op­por­tu­ni­ties in per­form­ing tasks most

left, Na­tures Im­per­fec­tions, scratch­board orig­i­nal, 9" x 12" right, Be­tween The Trees, scratch­board orig­i­nal, 5" x 11"

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