Mary Lewey and Her Wildlife Treasury

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by Amanda Beland

Some of the best things in life start with the unexpected.

For Mary Lewey, this couldn’t be more true. Behind her recently retired Illustrated Wildlife Treasury exhibit at Washington Street Art was a $5 flea market purchase and a stack of magazines headed for the trash.

A couple years later, a combination of the two finds make up a creative and whimsical collection of art and evolution.

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Wildlife Treasury is an illustrated animal encyclopedia for children published from 1975 through 1981. Known for its bright green plastic case, the encyclopedia contains individual cards with a picture of the animal on the front and information on the animal on the back.

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Lewey was perusing The Market in Davis Square when she found that familiar green box for sale. The pictures intrigued her, so she bought it. Later, she would save piles of architecture magazines from the trash at an architecture firm she worked for.

Lewey’s Illustrated Wildlife Treasury is essentially a collection of over 100 mini collages. Each encyclopedia card from the Treasury was selectively covered with vintage images of pin-ups, pictures and advertisements from former architecture mags. Lewey arranged her exhibit – which was up for viewing Oct. 3 through Oct. 29 at Washington Street Art – to show an evolution from single cell organisms to multiple cell organisms.

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Assembling the collages took years, but the results look effortless.

“I’m happy with how it turned out,” said Lewey.
While her exhibit retired at the end of October, Lewey’s collages are still available for purchase through her website.
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Andrew Saturday playing during Lewey’s closing reception on Oct. 29.
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