The Martha G. Michael exhibit in Ohio Dominican includes photos, paintings

When she retired this year from teaching at Capital University, Martha G. Michael began to focus more on two of her great loves: nature and travel.

The former Special Education and Art Education teacher continued to create art in a variety of mediums: painting, metalwork and photography. She has traveled to Africa, the Galapagos Islands, Washington State, Florida, Michigan and more, capturing wildlife, plants and waterways.

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About 70 of his works are on display in his “Of Bones, Beasts and Breath-Taking” exhibition at the Wehrle Gallery at Dominican University in Ohio.

Many pieces are images of wild animals – photographs transferred to an encaustic plate, giving them a slightly hazy, almost mystical look.

“I have a point-and-click Canon camera, an SX70 HS, which can take amazing close-ups from a distance,” Michael said. “It changed my life.”

"lion with ticks," photographed by Martha G. Michael in the Serengeti Plain, Tanzania

The kind of detail she captures can be seen in “Lion With Ticks,” shot in Tanzania. A few tiny ticks can be seen on the lush mane of the royal beast. Also from Tanzania, a portrait of a lilac-breasted roller, a large, colorful South African bird.

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Michael spent time at the Jane Goodall Institute in Tanzania, where she took a photo of “Gandolf”, a member of a family of adolescent chimpanzees.

The paintings, created in a mixture of oil and cold wax on board, include scenes from the Lake Superior region and a variety of larger-than-life flowers and plants. Among these are blue “poppies” and images of thistles, cactus flowers and lilies.

Michael, who earned a metallurgy degree from the University of Washington, went on to earn a Master of Arts in Art Education from The Ohio State University. She continues to work with metals, especially sterling silver. In this exhibition are exhibits of her rings, necklaces and bracelets, all contemporary.

Writing about the exhibit, Michael said it “randomly rearranged the surface of sterling silver to capture the elements of nature that invigorated my life.”

Michael said she began her interest and concern for the environment as a sixth-grader at the Columbus School for Girls by reading, among other things, “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson.

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"Poppies," oil and cold wax by Martha G. Michael

She said her layered method of working – oil and wax paints and encaustic photo transfer – helped her “discover what lies beneath what we take for granted” , especially in nature, and a deeper appreciation of the natural world.

“There is such beauty in the world,” Michael said. “We must preserve it for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. It motivates me to share the beauty I see through painting and photography.

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In one look

“Nature’s Underside: Of Bones, Beasts and Breath-Taking,” work by Martha G. Michael, continues through October 15 at The Ohio Dominican University’s Wehrle Gallery, 1216 Sunbury Road. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. Call 614-251-4500 or visit

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