Unraveling Humanity’s Intimate Relationship with the Natural World

Christopher Marley, Ontogenesis, 2016. Butterflies. 30 in. x 64 in. © 2024 Christopher Marley exquisitecreatures.org.

Crystal Bridges presents ‘Exquisite Creatures’

On March 16, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will open Exquisite Creatures, a three-dimensional exhibition that celebrates nature’s infinite variety. Created by artist Christopher Marley, the show features more than 400 individual objects of preserved plant, animal and mineral specimens, including crystals, lizards, beetles, parrots, butterflies, crabs and much more. The stunning mix of colors and textures will be arranged in precise geometric compositions, creating a mosaic of the natural world intended to inspire wonder and foster a desire for preservation.

“I believe visual enjoyment of the natural world is one of the most effective tools for motivating learning and understanding,” said Marley. “With Exquisite Creatures, we’re inviting Crystal Bridges visitors to immerse themselves in a world where order, diversity, symmetry and balance come to life in vibrant, awe-inspiring displays. I couldn’t be happier to share this exhibition with the Arkansas community – I hope everyone who sees it is inspired to develop a deeper connection to the outside world.”

Marley is an artist, naturalist, photographer and author who uses preserved natural specimens as his medium. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest, immersed in nature from his earliest memories. During a decade spent traveling the world as a fashion model, Marley’s passion for discovering unfamiliar elements in the natural world became an obsession. All organisms used in Exquisite Creatures, and throughout all of Marley’s work, are either reclaimed after dying of natural or incidental causes or sustainably obtained through a large network of people and institutions that share his passion for nature.

Christopher Marley, Convocation, 2020. Monitor lizards, tegu lizard. 48 in. x 68 in.
© 2024 Christopher Marley exquisitecreatures.org.

Throughout the exhibition, guests will have the rare opportunity to view many wondrous creatures up close, prompting them to take a deeper look at their environment. While Exquisite Creatures is on view, Crystal Bridges will also celebrate biophilia, the love of life, through various community programs, including an art-making activation with “Creature Kits” at local libraries and a Cocktail Crawl in partnership with local restaurants.

Additionally, the museum will host an opening lecture given by the artist on March 15, a Creature Fest on March 16, a week of spring break family-centered activities, K-12 school tours of the exhibition where students can create their own exquisite creature to be displayed in the museum and special programming encouraging outdoor exploration of the institution’s own trails and grounds.

Exquisite Creatures will remain on view at Crystal Bridges through July 29. Tickets to the exhibition are $12 for non-member adults. Museum members, SNAP participants, Veterans and youth 18 and under are free. Additional information and tickets are available at crystalbridges.org.