Artist Lynn Sures of Silver Spring, Maryland, has been awarded a prestigious Smithsonian Artist’s Research
Fellowship. She will conduct research and develop work using the resources of the Smithsonian Institution’s
Museum of Natural History, and the museum’s field research site at Olorgesailie, Kenya, an excavation site
where hominin artifacts have been found since 1942, and the drilling project is now providing a record of
climate, environment, and geological changes.
Sures’ SARF fellowship topic: THE NEXUS OF BEING AND PLACE: INTERPRETING HUMAN ORIGINS
A widely traveled multidisciplinary artist, Sures will study the points of convergence of our early ancestors’
traits and the characteristics of their habitat, to support a new body of work. Guided by discussions with
scientists from the National Museum of Natural History Human Origins Program and Department of
Paleobiology, she will make drawings from the extensive object collections of early human fossils at the
NMNH in Washington and in their area off-site facilities. Her principal advisor in the study of early hominins
and human origins will be Dr. Richard Potts. Her co-advisor will be Dr. Anna K. Behrensmeyer, with whom she
will discuss habitat and ecology.
In a second research phase Sures will join her advisors to spend time at SI’s field research site at Olorgesailie,
Kenya. There, she plans to draw the SI excavations in progress and come to know the vivid physical site itself,
which offers much evidence of early human presence. She will also work directly from some original fossil
skulls and post-cranial bones at the National Museums of Kenya, in Nairobi.
Sures currently anticipates the creation of a body of large-scale paper works rooted in her Smithsonian
research. Her bas-relief technique, which she developed during residencies in 2015 in Capellades, Spain
and in Fabriano, Italy, merges collagraph principles and freehand drawing with dimensional materials and
painterly hand papermaking techniques. Sures enters her fellowship with the view that our connectedness to
landscapes, habitats and other living creatures is durable, and asks, ”What does the art of human origins look like in my own hand?”