Chatham News

Award-winning artist honors Rachel Carson and the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring in new exhibition at Chatham

Artist Kate Cheney Chappell ‘67, Chatham alumna, is cofounder of the natural products company Tom’s of Maine

PITTSBURGH (August 30, 2012) …
To honor Rachel Carson and the 50th anniversary of her groundbreaking book, Silent Spring, award-winning artist Kate Cheney Chappell ’67 will mount a free public solo exhibition at the Chatham University Art Gallery. “InterRelated: One Artist’s Response to Silent Spring” opens with a reception on September 27 from 5-7 p.m. At 4 p.m. on September 28, poets Jean LeBlanc and Marjorie Agosin will give readings of their works that were inspired by Carson; readings will take place in classroom across the hall from the gallery. The show runs through
November 15.

Both alumnae of Chatham, Chappell and Carson also have Maine in common. Carson summered on Southport Island and is one of Maine’s most celebrated scientists. More than 50 miles of southern Maine coastline were dedicated as the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in her memory. Chappell moved “back to the land” with her husband Tom in 1968 and co-founded the natural products company Tom’s of Maine based on “the values of community and caring for the environment,” she says.

During walks in the Rachel Carson Refuge, Chappell passes a boulder with Carson’s words inscribed in bronze:  “All the life of the planet is interrelated… each species has its own ties to others… and all are related to the earth.” Chappell credits Carson with being a “guiding light” in her life. “My work reflects Rachel Carson’s understanding that we are all interrelated, all part of the web of life.”

Silent Spring sparked a debate that led to the banning of DDT and other pesticides in 1974. Chappell hopes to engage the current generation of young people in the 50-year-old environmental questions that still have relevancy today. The letters DDT are hidden in several of the prints the artist made on large etching presses.

The exhibit showcases more than 50 works from monoprints and mixed media to installations and books by the artist. As part of the show, Chappell will collaborate with students to build a life-size eagle’s nest on campus from collected dead branches. Raku-fired clay ‘eagle’s eggs’ she created will be hidden on campus for students to find. The eggs contain messages about DDT and its contribution to the thinning of eagle’s eggshells and the subsequent decline in their population.

“Kate Cheney Chappell’s art is visual lyricism, created in sympathy with the writings of Rachel Carson and in empathy with the earth,” writes Sherry Buckberrough, chair of the art history department at the University of Hartford. Essays by Buckberrough and Patricia DeMarco, the director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham, appear with color reproductions of Chappell’s work in a 50-page show catalogue published by the University. Poems written in response to Carson are included; the catalogue will be available for purchase at the gallery. For more information, visit or

About Chatham University
Chatham University, founded in 1869, is located in the vibrant Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. Preparing students from around the world, Chatham’s enrollment throughout the past decade was the fastest growing in the Pittsburgh region.

Consisting of an undergraduate women’s college and graduate and online programs for both men and women, Chatham has consistently been ranked among the top master’s level institutions in the Northeast by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Offering challenging academics and innovative programming in the fields of sustainability and the environment, the health sciences, and business & entrepreneurship, a Chatham education is designed to meet the needs of tomorrow’s economy, today.

Chatham has also demonstrated institutional commitments to reach carbon neutrality by 2025 and has been recognized as a leader in sustainability by The Princeton Review, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the League of American Bicyclists, and Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future. For more information, call 800-837-1290 or visit