Published: March 2, 2017

Women in Art: Adrienne Stroup, Geology Collections Assistant

Side-by-side of a woman seated at a desk, working on a drawing, and a close-up of an illustration of orange foxes

We're highlighting women artists at The Field Museum and exploring the intersection of art and science. Hear from Adrienne Stroup, geology collections assistant and freelance scientific illustrator:

How did you get your start as an artist?  Illustration of an animal skull and the head of a hippo-like animal eating leaves off a branch

I remember watching my mom drawing roses when I was really young. It was fascinating to watch her create something beautiful; she was my first inspiration and continues to be. When I was 8 years old, I started taking lessons with my mom's art teacher, and though I didn't major in art, I continued to take lessons and art classes throughout my academic career. 

What does your job entail? What’s the day-to-day like? 

I work with the vertebrate paleontology collections at The Field Museum and am in charge of sending and receiving specimen loans to researchers. Yes, I send fossils through the mail! Every day is a little bit different, and I love that my job entails working with real fossils every day. Aside from sending loans, I also help maintain the physical organization and care of the collection. Building cradles for fossil storage out of Ethafoam and hot glue is one task where my artistic skills have been particularly helpful.

What has been your favorite part of your work, or a memorable moment? 

I love the freedom my job gives me to utilize my artistic skills in addition to my scientific knowledge, whether it is building Ethafoam cradles or drawing reconstructions of extinct animals for an educational program.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?  Illustration of a gray rabbit leaping and a small deer-like animal

Whatever medium or subject matter you enjoy working with, never stop creating, and document your work with photos. Having a robust and current portfolio of work ready to show is important whether you are applying for a job or entering your work in an art show or gallery. An art background is valuable for aspiring artists and casual hobbyists alike. Training in the arts helps develop critical thinking skills and creative problem-solving. Don't ever let anyone tell you art classes are unimportant!  

See how Adrienne draws an ichthyosaur from the collection.

Read about her artistic process in "Picturing the Past Through Scientific Illustration."