Tonawanda News — “It’s actually taking organic objects from the forests,” she said. “All this will also be returned. My show is just a chance to have it be seen ... and hopefully to encourage people to go out on their own, too. I call myself more of a nurturer.”
Visitors to the exhibit will be able to use small magnifying glasses to inspect the work. On April 18, Merritt’s artist talk and eco-demo will give them a chance to get closer still, to play around with the stream table, crack open geodes, look through microscopes, touch more and play more, she said. “I want to say, ‘Here’s how you can handle these things, to deep a little deeper.’ “
In way, the exhibit marks a homecoming for Merritt. She graduated from North Tonawanda High School in 2006, and attended Niagara County Community College before heading to the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she received her bachelor’s degree in drawing and painting.
While a child in North Tonawanda, she took art classes in the basement of the Carnegie, and still treasures a canvas with pressed flowers on it that she created there.
“Nature has always been a part of it,” she said. “It’s just fallen into place. I think that’s a big part of it.”
Merritt also credits Cindy O’Mara, her high school art teacher at NTHS, with whom she’s now working on the Carnegie exhibit. O’Mara, she said, told students both that art was something they could make into a career and to create an experience for those who encounter their work.
“It’s a thing I’ve never stopped doing,” Merritt said. “What I’m trying to capture is awe and wonder. Pull you in with that ... and then slowly start to look a little closer.