- Lower Level Gallery
This exhibition features paintings from 18 nature preserves across Illinois that celebrate the 59-year legacy of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission and offer a window into the past and present nature of the Prairie State.
‘As an artist, I’m enthralled by tallgrass prairie. Its beauty, rich ecology, and fascinating history are the essential ingredients in what I believe makes a compelling landscape.’
Over an eight-year period, Juras made dozens of trips from his home in Athens, Georgia, to paint many of the sites in Illinois that hold the last .01% of original prairie. This exhibition celebrates the conservation legacy of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. The commission was created by a far-sighted act of the state legislature in 1963 to “assist private and public landowners in protecting high quality natural areas and habitats of endangered and threatened species.” Since then, nearly 600 important ecological sites have been protected, providing refuge for hundreds of species of plants and animals. For Juras, this conservation of the prairie is important, ‘as stewards, we humans will ensure that the distant views over the profuse blooms of intact remnant prairies can be experienced long into the future.’