The Natural History Institute is featuring Artist and Veterinarian Ken Gorczyca in a new gallery exhibit,

“Portraits of Gaia,” a new gallery exhibit featuring the work of San Francisco artist and veterinarian Ken Gorczyca, opens from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at the Natural History Institute (NHI), 126 N. Marina St., Prescott, as part of Prescott’s 4th Friday Art Walk. The exhibit runs through Jan. 13.

Gorczyca will also give an artist talk, “Portraits of Gaia: A Veterinary Artist Perspective,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, in which he discusses his inspiration and process.

Then, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, Gorczyca will co-lead a field experience with NHI’s program director and ecologist, Jessie Rack. This session, “Images From the Source: A Shared Experience,” will include a brief discussion on the local area’s natural history. Participants will be offered a guided meditation and encouraged to create a painting, drawing, photograph or poem that mirrors their impressions of the land.

Gorczyca spoke with Across the Street ahead of his upcoming exhibit. The following interview was edited for length and clarity.

Why do you paint outside?

I find nature, for me personally, very healing. It’s my studio in a way and I have been drawn most recently to the deserts of the Southwest. I especially like going to Death Valley. I have found that that landscape really speaks to me. My theme for this show is called “Portraits of Gaia.” Gaia was the Greek goddess of all living things and there’s the Gaia theory, which is that the Earth itself is alive. As a veterinarian, I believe that all the scenes that I’m painting are alive with some aspect of Gaia.

What advice would you give to someone who is inspired to be a painter like you?

Part of what I’m trying to bring across with this show is to share how I am — I don’t know what’s the right word — empowered, entranced by nature. I’ve always found nature a very healing place and I want to encourage people to spend more time in nature. That can allow for their creative forces to be activated in a more powerful way. I’ll be sharing how I do that, but everyone’s path is different.

I think that nature is a big teacher for us, especially during these times when there’s so much chaos and disruption in our world that we do have within our reach, a very powerful place to heal for all of us. It doesn’t matter what our political beliefs are, or who we are, nature is there for all of us. That’s sort of my purpose, is to try to highlight that.

The lecture is free, and the workshop costs $40. Registration is required for both events. For more information or to register for the lecture or field experience, call the Natural History Institute at 928-863-3232 or visit naturalhistoryinstitute.org/events.

Jesse Bertel is a reporter/videographer for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @ JesseBertel, email him at jbertel@prescottaz.com, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2043.

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