On the following pages John Burk recounts for us the history and functions of the Herbarium of Smith College. With wit and clarity he makes us aware of a resource of the College known to few outside the sciences at Smith, and he gives us insight into the relationship this resource has to teaching and research.
The drawings of Pamela See ('73), a biological sciences major, and the photographs of Janet Borden ('73), an art major, illuminate Mr. Burk's text and attest to the artistic inspiration drawn from the specimens of the Herbarium.
Miss See began to study drawing with me at the end of her junior year. Her interest, she maintained, was in botanical illustration to the exclusion of any other approach to drawing. She described to me her thoughts about plants and the reasons why she wanted to draw them. I found her descriptions like the Aristotelian ideas of "soul" or "vital principle" of all living things, and I had little doubt that such feeling for the objects coupled with intense work would lead to good draughtsmanship and expression. From the sixth-century codex Aniciae Julianae of Dioscorides, through centuries of illustrated herbals, the wonder and beauty of plants have given us excellent art in the service of science. (This fact is easily examined at Smith in another of its resources, the Rare Book Room.)
Miss See's projects led her to Mr. Burk who introduced her to the Herbarium and advised her on many aspects of her work, always giving generously of his time and knowledge. Eventually we agreed that a small publication describing and illustrating the Herbarium would be worthwhile, and Janet Borden, a fine photographer, was asked to join in the project. Thus, The Herbarium of Smith College, written by John Burk, illustrated by Pamela See and Janet Borden, and designed by Elliot Offner represents part of the much larger teaching and learning process in which we are participating.
|August, 1973||Elliot Offner|