Professor Betsey Batchelor Launches “The Flower Paintings” Exhibit in Philadelphia

By Ryan Hiemenz | May 14, 2024
A painting by Betsey Batchelor.

Betsey Batchelor, Associate Professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Arcadia University, launched her exhibition titled “The Flower Paintings,” which will be on display at The Cope House Gallery in Philadelphia from May 1 to June 26. The exhibit showcases the presence of the flower as an image in Batchelor’s works spanning the years 1991 to 2024, serving as a retrospective of her career.

“The Flower Paintings” features 33 original, oil and gouache (opaque watercolor) paintings that are installed and organized in the exhibit in response to each piece’s scale and presence within the gallery. 

“The framing of the work was a monumental effort because of the sheer number of pieces, and the gouaches need to be framed under glass for UV protection,” explained Batchelor. “Preparing all the work towards the end of the semester and installing it during the week of final critiques was madness.”

A painting by Betsey Batchelor.

Batchelor said the paintings traverse the real and the imagined.

“In my work, I try to locate my human experience in the vast, expansive, and mysterious world

that goes far beyond what we can know through the touch and measure of our human senses,” said Batchelor. “I reflect on our smallness in the face of the great mystery of the larger world.”

“The paintings exploring this from the 1990s are painted as invented things in imagined worlds,” she added.”These paintings offer a suggestion of both worlds. The small oil paintings of flowers are painted from life and connect me to the small and intimate world of the every day, allowing me to feel the world through my senses. The small gouache paintings are invented, painted from imagination.”

A painting by Betsey Batchelor.

Though she has exhibited her work in the past, this is the first time she’s exhibited work that spans a period of time.  In this process, she’s reconnected with earlier means and methods of expression and is reflecting on the way they connect to recent and current work.

“I appreciate the opportunity to view the work in this context, and to revisit the larger works and

the affection I have for them,” Batchelor said. “I have worked with abstraction since 2010, always loose and painterly, putting aside figuration, and focusing on the language of color, shape, and materiality. Shape with its gesture and contour offering a metaphor for the limits of our senses in understanding the world.”

A painting by Betsey Batchelor.

Batchelor looks forward to getting back in the studio this summer to see if working on the exhibition of these pieces sparks any new possibilities within her work. The Cope House Gallery is located in the Awbury Arbouretum at 1 Awbury Road in Philadelphia. You can check out “The Flower Paintings” for free between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.