Nachusa Bison, June

Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois
Oil on canvas
24 x 48 in. (61 x 121.9 cm)


From Picturing the Prairie: A Vision of Restoration:

In June of 2018, in the location pictured here, I had only just started a small oil study (see below) when I realized I had better stop and pack up my gear. A contingent of Nachusa’s bison herd, the subject of my study, had started wandering my way. Having retreated to the safety of 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 original 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.

My photos and video from that encounter served as the source material for this painting.

Exhibition History