Excerpt from Picturing the Prairie, A Vision of Restoration, p. 27:
On the afternoon of June 12, 2018, I found myself in such a revery when I was interrupted from my painting by Nachusa’s bison. The herd, which was featured in my composition, started wandering my way. Sitting safely in the open cab of the utility vehicle I was using, I was enveloped in a soundscape of snuffling and soft tearing and munching of mouthfuls of prairie grass as the group shuffled past. Around us, birds sang, pollinators buzzed, and a breeze ruffled the grasses. With a thousand acres of Nachusa’s blooming prairies and savannas around me, I couldn’t help but feel that the sensory impressions I was experiencing would have been much the same on the wild, pre-Columbian tallgrass prairie. Yet it was an entirely modern experience, an effect achieved through the powerful combination of dedicated volunteers and organizational expertise that had converted cow pastures and cornfields back to functioning tallgrass prairie—replete with native megafauna. Now even the bison are chipping in, creating habitat for the return of the upland sandpiper and other native species through their grazing, trampling, and wallowing.
About to retreat to UTV.
Painted on location.
Finished canvas mounted to hardboard.
May 1 - September 12, 2021
Chicago Botanic Garden
Picturing the Prairie: A Vision of Restoration
Published in conjunction with Philip’s 2021 exhibition at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Contributors include: Philip Juras, artist and author; Hank Paulson, foreword; and Stephen Packard, essay. Published by Little Bluestem Press, Athens, GA, 2021.