Conservation Galleries Visual Arts

The Beauty of Bats at BMCA

Theresa Coté, artist. Photo by Gale Jackson

By Jessica Klarp

For the fourth year in a row, the Black Mountain Center for the Arts (BMCA) is creating a community awareness event. This year’s theme is The Beauty of Bats.

“Bats are misunderstood,” says organizer Libba Tracy. “Bats also don’t get the credit they deserve for consuming 1,200 mosquitos an hour and pollinating the fruit we love to eat.” The event begins with a free gallery show opening Friday, September 8, and featuring the work of nature photographer Michael Durham.

“I have used a camera to document subjects that are often beyond human perception. The more elusive the subject, the more interesting it is,” says Durham, an expert in remote nocturnal and extreme macro photography.

“These close-up photographs will give gallery patrons a glimpse into how beautiful and vital these fascinating creatures are,” says BMCA executive director Gale Jackson. “This fits with our ongoing efforts to introduce the community—and especially local students—to endangered or threatened species.” The project is supported by a District Grant to the Rotary Club of Black Mountain, Rotary District 7670 and the Rachman Clinic.

To draw attention to the art exhibit, artist Theresa Coté has created fiber art sculptures of a family of bats that will hang outside BMCA in fair weather throughout September.

Tuesday through Thursday, September 12, 13 and 14, four Swannanoa Valley schools will take part in a ‘parade of bats.’ Participating students will walk with hand puppets (made by Tracy) from Black Mountain town square to the Arts Center, where they will view Durham’s photographs and hear a live bat presentation by Vicky Beckham Smith, a respected bat educator from A-Z Animals in Atlanta. Since 1997, Smith has worked throughout the South sharing the merits and mysteries of bats through lectures, presentations and television programs with zoos, museums, nature centers, libraries and schools.

“The more removed we become from the natural world, the more important it becomes to bring awareness to that which is in danger of disappearing,” says Tracy. “Some bats are in serious trouble. For instance, our local cavedwelling bats are succumbing to white-nose syndrome, which is rapidly spreading across the US. We believe that, particularly for children who live in such a tech-focused world, exposing them to these creatures helps bring appreciation for that which we need now and in the future.”

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is located at 225 West State Street. The Upper Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about The Beauty of Bats visit or call 828.669.0930.

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