The work of Bill Harbin will be displayed on Nov. 16 at the Harbin Clinic Gallery at Makervillage in a new exhibit titled “Seeking Botany’s Design.” The show features the artist’s most recent work that showcases the intricate detail of plants that we often overlook.
The show opens with a reception celebrating Harbin’s work. The event will take place at Makervillage on North 5th Avenue from 6 to 8 p.m. and will feature a special musical performance by acclaimed violinist Tim Reynolds. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP at harbinclinic.com/gallery.
This exhibit will be on display through the end of December, with open gallery hours on Friday evenings from 4 to 6 p.m.
This show marks the final exhibit of the Harbin Clinic Gallery for 2019 which featured the works of Howard Finster, assorted folk artists, physicians and staff of Harbin Clinic, local art professors and more throughout the year.
“We are thrilled to feature the fascinating work of Bill Harbin in our gallery,” says Kenna Stock, Harbin Clinic CEO. “These stunning, intricate works of art are a great way to wrap up a year of having excellent exhibits in the Harbin Clinic Gallery.
Harbin – the grandson of one of Harbin Clinic’s founders, William Harbin – is a retired radiologist, having worked in Rome’s medical community for more than 30 years. A man with vast interests, Harbin’s inquisitive nature sparked in him a love for birds that led to botany.
In 2004, Bill Harbin was a seasoned birder, but butterflies began to pique his interest. After studying birds for 19 years, it was only logical that all that time in the field would spark an intrigue in other winged creatures. But studying butterflies was a whole different animal, one that required trading his binoculars for a camera.
“You cannot learn the butterflies if you don’t photograph them,” Harbin explains. “The small ones that are less than half an inch in size, the hairstreaks, the blues and elfins, must be captured on film to study.”
Harbin bought a digital Canon Rebel with a macro lens and took it out for the first time in March of 2004 to photograph a few hairstreak butterflies. He brought the images home and put them on his computer, something he’d never done before, and he was hooked.
“I said that’s it, I’m going to have to do photography,” he recalls. “It was particularly this juniper hairstreak butterfly, a gorgeous little lime green butterfly, that captured my attention. I was blown away.”
“I call it ‘the bug that ruined my life’,” he jokes, while thinking back on the beginning of his passion for capturing perfect images.
His mission to study birds became a mission to learn butterflies, and that developed into a mission to document the natural world he was seeing. He began to look at other nature photography, making comparisons to his own work, and realized that he wanted to improve his techniques. “I didn’t sleep much over the next three years.”
Harbin’s work on display at the Harbin Clinic Gallery is a look at the intricate details of plants that many people don’t even notice.
Each image in the collection involves combining multiple layers of macro images of an isolated plant piece, such as a bloom or a seed pod, in Photoshop. The results are striking enlarged and detailed portraits that reveal microscopic impressions with depth that is impossible to match in a single image.
“Either blessed or cursed by a fascination with detail, I’m often dumbstruck by the tiny features and intricate patterns inherent in plant morphology. This closer observation combined with a high-resolution lens and lengthy digital processing reveals structural designs that indicate sophisticated survival strategies which have evolved over millennia — some still a mystery,” Harbin said.