***Due to the coronavirus outbreak, District programs through April 3 have been canceled or rescheduled. Most visitor centers also are closed.***
From winged creatures to objects carried on the wind, flight is a natural phenomenon. To see how that phenomenon has inspired artists, the public is invited to Plum Creek Nature Center for the "Nature Takes Flight Juried Art Competition."
The artworks selected for the exhibit will be on public display from Tuesday, March 3, through Friday, April 3, at Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township. The nature center's hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and noon-4 p.m. Sundays.
"We have new artists this year to give the show a new perspective," said Suzy Lyttle, interpretive naturalist with the Forest Preserve District. "Plus we have a new theme. Last year was all about spring, and this year it is all about flight!"
The 55 pieces on exhibit were selected from 143 submissions. They include a variety of mediums, including oil and acrylic paintings, photographs, textiles and metal sculptures, Lyttle said. Most of the artworks are for sale.
"I feel like we have a lot of upcycled pieces as well, which ties perfectly into the 'Found Objects Art Trail' that will be opening as the art show closes," she said.
"Yellow Jacket" is among the pieces made from upcycled items. Artist Steve Kost, a combat veteran who began creating metal sculptures as a therapeutic outlet, created an insect sculpture from found metal objects and parts from a dismantled typewriter.
Another upcycled piece, titled "Do You Hear the Bluebird," is made from old encyclopedias.
This year's theme, "Nature Takes Flight," was meant to inspire both literally and figuratively, Lyttle said, and fitting with that theme, the selected pieces include a good variety of birds and insects, a leaping squirrel and leaves in flight.
Lyttle said the exhibited pieces are "on point" with the theme, adding that nothing is too abstract. A few of the artworks will be hanging from the ceiling.
"Some things will literally be taking flight," she said of the exhibit.
One of these hanging pieces, titled "2171," is an installation of 435 paper moths and butterflies that represent just a fraction of the native Lepidoptera moths and butterflies native to Will County.
In addition, some of the art is interactive. "Locomotion" appears to be birds at first glance, but when exposed to ultraviolet light new animals appear.
All the exhibited artworks will be judged by a jury, and the top three entries will receive Visa gift cards in the amounts of $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $200 for third place. Members of the public who attend the exhibition are invited to vote for their favorite piece, and the winner of the "people's choice" award will receive a $100 Visa gift card, Lyttle said. Funding for the awards are being provided by The Nature Foundation of Will County.
The jury for the show includes Lyttle; Jennifer Meyer, a sculptor and the artist who created pieces on display in the "Found Objects Art Trail" at Goodenow Grove's Snapper Pond; Don Sala, a photographer whose work has previously been exhibited at the nature center; and Jim Flax from The Nature Foundation of Will County.
"We all have a different perspective," Lyttle said of the jurors. "It's about how it strikes them."
As an interpretive naturalist, she said the natural and native elements of the species represented are important to her. The judges also take note of the pieces' composition and quality.
This is the second year Plum Creek has hosted a juried art show. Lyttle said they hope to host another show next year, with a few changes from the previous years' shows.
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