The North Carolina Arboretum presents Nature & Nurture: The Voorhees Family Artistic Legacy, on display in the Arboretum’s Baker Visitor Center through September 5. The exhibition features work by late painters Edwin and Mildred Voorhees, their daughters Susan Voorhees and Jane Voorhees, their son David Voorhees and his wife Molly Sharp Voorhees, and their son Chad Voorhees and his wife Amy Cusick Voorhees.
“Through this exhibit, we are able to honor our parents, not only by showcasing their work but also by telling their story and our story,” says Jane. “They were both accomplished painters, but they also had a gift for inspiring us and supporting us in our creative journeys.”
Edwin and Mildred believed that nature and nurture were important. When they moved to the coast of NC in the 1960s, they made both of those more available to themselves and their children and became the accomplished painters they longed to be while raising a family of artists and crafters.
As Edwin became well-known for his watercolor seascapes, Mildred began painting as well, and developed a distinctive style. Making art as a family, often working together in one big room, painting, sketching, making cards and crafting, became a tradition.
The exhibit includes watercolor, oil and pastel paintings; stoneware and porcelain pottery; sterling silver and gold jewelry; and wood furniture. A response to the natural environment is evident in the works, as are both connections between, and unique characteristics of, each artist’s work. “Each of us loves to explore concepts, techniques and materials and we encourage each other to always try new things,” says David.
The exhibit reminds viewers that everyone can be creative and that with nurturing and support we can each bring that creativity out and make it a part of our journeys.
“An important lesson our parents modeled, aside from prioritizing and valuing family and doing things together,” says Susan, “is that if you want to take a risk and change direction in your life’s work, you can do that and be successful as defined by happiness and fulfillment, and not necessarily by monetary success.”
The North Carolina Arboretum is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 393. Admission is free. A standard $16 per vehicle parking fee is required for non-members. For more information, call 828.665.2492 or visit NCArboretum.org.