Connect to nature through Ryerson arts programs
Artist Meaghan Burritt created boxes showcasing elements of nature for an exhibit last year at Ryerson Woods. Her boxes this year will feature findings from the Des Plaines River.
‘Lessons from the Prairie’
Ryerson Woods, Riverwoods Road between Half Day Road and Deerfield Road, near Deerfield
(847) 968-3321 or visit www.lcfpd.org
Updated: July 13, 2012 10:13AM
Art, architecture, films, book discussions and lightning talks by dynamic speakers will all be used to deliver “Lessons from the Prairie” at Ryerson Woods. The diverse series of public programs was planned by Seren Orgel, program manager for Friends of Ryerson Woods.
“Our goal as an organization is to try and find different ways for people to connect with nature,” Orgel said. “Every year we have a theme that unites all of our programs.”
An art exhibit, “Genius Loci: Listening to Nature’s Muse,” runs through the end of August at the Brushwood Center.
“We looked for artists who were in our area,” Orgel said. “We also looked for artists taking nature as an inspiration but in more complicated ways than just drawing a picture of a tree — although that’s lovely as well.”
One example of that is an installation called, “Project In Situ: Des Plaines River Specimen (PI:DPS1),” which is being created by Chicago-based artist Meaghan Burritt.
“I studied archeology growing up and also became very interested in art, so I tend to merge the two,” Burritt said. “The piece I’m doing is focusing on a specific riverbed location in Ryerson Woods. I would go out there to do observation, collecting human debris and studying the composition of the specific spot where all this debris was washed up.”
Burritt will place those manmade objects, along with natural artifacts and sticks, in a box she is creating that is similar to the Harris Loan Boxes (exhibit cases, as well as experience boxes that can be borrowed).
In addition, Burritt said, “There’s going to be a part where I’ve recreated the actual composition of a small area of the riverbed. I’m playing with the idea of the importance of site and the importance of where things come from. It’s my way of connecting with place and with the natural environment.”
The next event will be a lecture on “The Prairie and the Prairie School of Architecture,” 7-8 p.m. Thursday, July 19 by David Bagnall, curator and director of interpretation for the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust ($10, $8 for Friends of Ryerson Woods members).
“We have such treasures in our area,” Orgel said, referring to Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and that of other Prairie School architects. “The Prairie School architects were some of the first people in modern design to come up with some groundbreaking designs based on things they had learned from nature and from our region,” he explained.
“My talk will be on Frank Lloyd Wright’s development of his Prairie style of architecture, which he began working towards in the last decade of the 19th century,” Bagnall said. “Over the first decade of the 20th century, it really came to fruition. The houses that he saw around him — which typically were inspired by other countries and other cultures — he felt didn’t really reflect American values. So he set out to create a uniquely American form of architecture which ultimately became known as the Prairie Style.”
Although that wasn’t the label Wright put on his style, “He makes constant references to how he’s inspired by the expansive landscapes of the Midwest, and was designing houses specifically for the prairie,” Bagnall said. “My talk will chart his development of this style.”
Other events in the series include an Outdoor Film Festival focusing on ways we can learn from the prairie ecosystem (7-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25; $15, $10 for FRW members); a discussion of Charles Mann’s 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, led by Lake Forest College professor Ben Goluboff (7:30-9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19; $15, $10 for FRW members); and an author talk on The Taste of Tomorrow with Josh Schonwald (7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27; free).
The series concludes with “Lightning Talks at Ryerson Woods,” featuring a group of dynamic speakers, each talking for no more than 6.6 minutes (date to be determined).