The paintings by Jacquelyn McBain are deeply felt responses to the natural world revealing a keenness of observation joined to an intuitive response to the artist's study of Pronk, Vanitas, the 17th and 18th century floral artists, particularly that of Jan van Huysum, Rachel Ruysch, and Jan Davidsz de Heem. McBain's reflections convey the value she places on the core of memory and the insights gleaned during the depth of dreaming. Donald Kuspit, in writing of McBain's work, remarks that the artist reflects a return to the Old Masters in giving us beautifully crafted paintings that become reliquaries and greenhouses that portray a sense of the sacred and the sacredness of beauty. McBain's choice of the 17th century Dutch painters as mentors for her paintings presents the viewer with a modernist devotional form.
McBain's paintings act as both icons and a place of scientific reflection compared, and sometimes conflated, with occasional reversals of established order. The artist posits that art does not simply imitate nature, nor is it a play of the imagination, but rather is the techne or craft that enables us, through constraint, to grasp nature. Man, humbled, made equal and childlike through the purgation of the idols of understanding, is at once the servant and the interpreter of nature and prophet of a technology that will bring mastery. In a subtle yet powerful way, art can lead to a new kind of knowledge of the world. McBain's sense of wonder at nature and regard for the sense of ritual constructed by man around the core of life's meaning reveal her innate sense of relationship and affiliation with other living things.
Among the museum exhibition the artist has been featured in are: Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, De; The Palo Alto Art Center, CA; Laguna Art Museum, CA; Frye Art Museum, WA; The Art Museum, Florida International University, FL; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; Norton Museum of Art, FL; Austin Museum of Art, TX; Tacoma Museum of Art, WA; Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota, MN; Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota, MN; University Galleries, Illinois State University, IL; Alexandria Museum of Art, VA; Fresno Art Museum, CA; Secca, Southeastern Center of Contemporary Art, NC.