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Fall Exhibition Artist Spotlights: Samantha Niewierowski, Alaina Mercer, Derek Dammann, Christopher Taulbee, Kathleen Francis, and Anita Douthat


Samantha Niewierowski, Alaina Mercer, Derek Dammann, Christopher Taulbee, Kathleen Francis, and Anita Douthat

Nature can be many different things. It is the environment around us, the ecosystem sustaining us, and the instincts woven into our very being. Nature can help create a culture, a cuisine, a religion; but in its fullness, it is also full of contradictions. It creates in the same breath that it breaks down. It inspires awe as it does fear. It is the deepest ocean in the same way it is the farthest star. Our relationship with it is similarly complex. It is key to our survival, yet we destroy it. It fosters our wellbeing, yet we isolate ourselves from it. It is untamable, yet we still try to contain it. Somehow all of these things can be true.

And somehow, the art created in its name can address all of these things. From the Hudson River School capturing the sublime beauty of untouched America, to the Land Artists creating ever-changing works from mud, stone, and grass, nature has been the subject and the tools of artists since the dawn of time. Whether realistic or heavily stylized, representational or abstract, artists have always been attracted to depicting nature and their own personal or cultural relationship with it. 

This fall, 1628 is thrilled to be showcasing 27 primarily local and regional artists in Deeply Rooted, Deeply Held, which speaks to the continuation of this millennia long dance between artists and the world they find themselves in. It explores our extraordinary planet and our connection to it – the emotions it inspires, the comfort (or danger) it brings – and urges us to appreciate and protect it, to closely hold what has been rooted within us for so long. Featured in this show are artists Samantha Niewierowski, Alaina Mercer, Derek Dammann, Christopher Taulbee, Kathleen Francis, and Anita Douthat.



Samantha Niewierowski is a paleontologist-slash-artist currently based in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated in August of 2021 with dual degrees in Geology (University of Cincinnati) and Art (University of Cincinnati School of Design, Arts, Architecture, and Planning). She divides her time between researching in the lab and sculpting in her home studio. Her interests in geoscience and paleontology inspire her work as well as her drive to blend her two great passions of art and science. Her research has taken her halfway across the world, and her art has taken her the rest of the way around; she is the recipient of an international paleoart award in Bristol, has showcased her work in San Juan, and has been featured as a scientific illustrator for numerous arts and science journals in the United States. Sam hopes to bridge the gap between scientists and artists by creating work that pertains to, interests, and inspires people in both fields of study and beyond.

“My Wycinanki (a traditional Eastern European Folk Art style) uniquely sits at the intersection of who I am as both an artist and a scientist. My work finds a balance between life and death, a natural cycle, by taking the symbology and vividity of life; as personified by floral scenes and animals, and meets the lush imagery on an unlike canvas; bone, representing death. The contrast between life-and-death in my work ultimately acts as a celebration of the natural processes in nature, as well as the inevitable.”



A Cincinnati, OH native, Alaina Mercer graduated from Mount St. Joseph University with a Bachelor of both Art and English in 2014. She paints oil on canvas, focused on abstract landscapes. Her love of Shakespeare inspired early work and continues feeding her desire to paint today. Married in 2017, Alaina is a proud mother of two daughters, another rich source of inspiration in her work. Each piece is an invitation into a depth of emotion she can only translate to canvas. Alaina hopes her paintings transport the viewer to a current/past feeling, memory, or dream, and that they enjoy the visit.

“I believe capturing the beauty of nature is the best way to translate every moment of life I’ve experienced. When entirely in tune within, I transfer every emotion, memory, and thought I can’t easily verbalize onto canvas. The relation between colors, expressive textures, and blended edges harmonizes into something tangible. My paintings are portals to a universe of dreams, literature, and love; a glimpse of my heart and the embodiment of who I am, romanticized through abstracted landscapes.”




Derek Dammann has been filled with a strong desire to explore the natural world from an early age. He spent countless hours as a child paging through his father’s extensive collection of National Geographic books and magazines and watching TV programs such as Wild America, then venturing out to the woods behind his house to pretend he were on some exotic adventure. He picked up a camera after college and found photography to be a natural extension of his love of the world and the places and creatures in it, and a perfect medium through which he could share that love with others.

“The Dark Hedges depicts an idyllic rural road in Northern Ireland engulfed in a tangled canopy of trees. These beech trees were planted 150+ years ago by the family who lived at the end of this road, are well past their typical life span, but are so tightly rooted together that they support and protect each other. This seemed the perfect metaphor for man’s interaction with nature; what was once natural ornamentation decorating a man made structure is now the opposite, and we get to enjoy this wild scene today thanks to human interventions on the landscape over a century ago.”




Christopher Taulbee is a Cincinnati artist working in Ceramics and painting. Since earning a BFA from UC’s DAAP program in 2017, Chris has been making and teaching art locally. In 2017 he founded Taul Arts Studio, offering commissioned art services, private art instruction and art direction. Chris has worked both locally and nationally for companies to create signage, print media, web content , murals, logos and more! He can be found around Cincinnati’s many parks en plein air painting, and also creating larger than life oil paintings of flowers that he refers to as portraits. Taking inspiration from interactions within nature, Chris hopes to capture and encourage a deeper sense of connection with the utopian essence of the world around us.

“My work is a series of large scale oil paintings of flowers in and out of their natural settings. The paintings are framed in a portrait orientation on a scale larger than the viewer. Trying to subliminally push the idea of hierarchical proportion, I aim to immediately reverse the viewer’s assumed role as master of the universe sent to conquer an earth made for consumption. Now this tiny organism on which all of life depends is exalted to a state higher than humanity. In its rightful proportion it looms over the viewer like a beautiful omen.”




Kathleen Francis is a native Cincinnati artist who ponders the relationship of humans to each other, nature and time. Her artwork is created in a variety of media, including mixed media, acrylic, watercolor, pastels, soot and photography. At the age of 17, Kathy lost her mother to cancer, forcing her to put life on hold to care for her. This made her realize life’s moments are fleeting and so much beauty and connection is missed. As a result, she attempts to capture her meaningful, soulful moments with nature and personal connections to loved ones, which she believes are the essence of life. A graduate of Northern Kentucky University in Communications and Graphic Design, she is now a professional artist who has exhibited at the Cincinnati Pendleton Art Center, Evendale Fine Arts Fair, Mt. Adams Art Walk, Art on Vine, Aurora Windows, Woodcast Brewery Art Social, Pyramid Hill Art Fair, and has had two solo exhibitions. She also teaches art and is a Docent at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

“My work is about the relationship of humans to each other, nature and time. Much of my work is intuitive, in the search of soulfulness, yet most of my paintings are developed to be visually tied to a personal memory or experience with nature. Since my mom died during formative years for me, I matured early and learned life is to be cherished – every little thing, including shadows, moss, weeds and ash! I believe there is beauty in challenges, the unknown, and even death.”





Anita Douthat earned a B.S. from the Institute of Design, Chicago, and an M.F.A. from the University of New Mexico. She received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. From 1985 – 1992, Douthat was curator of the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University. She was registrar and associate director of Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, from 1994 – 2017. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, she currently resides in Alexandria, Kentucky.

“The Latticework Series combines digital and camera-less imagery. Using an iPhone, I photograph arrangements of botanical specimens from my backyard placed on top of out of date or pre-exposed sheets of unfixed printing-out paper. These underlying photograms continue to expose in the sun while I photograph, turning various shades of pink, red and purple. Additional shadows are cast from an overhead arbor lattice. Begun in 2018, this series has become a profound appreciation for the natural world and a necessary solace during a devastating pandemic.”

Multiple pieces in this exhibition are for sale. If you are interested in purchasing any artwork from the show, please contact us at


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