Spending time in nature can be both relaxing and inspiring, creating an urgency for those with creative flair to, well, create. With nearly 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful scenery throughout Cook County, the Forest Preserves provide beautiful spaces to escape to for much needed rest, rejuvenation and artistic inspiration.
To help showcase just how influential nature can be in the creative process, as well as use art to connect more people to nature, the Forest Preserves is pleased to announce Kathleen Garness, volunteer stewardship workday leader and winner of last year’s Illinois Association of Park District’s Volunteer of the Year, as the first ever Artist in Residence for the Forest Preserves of Cook County.
Known in Forest Preserves circles for her hard work as a volunteer, another passion of Kathleen’s includes creating art. Her artistic credits include being featured on the Smithsonian’s Environmental Research Center website, providing botanic art education workshops, as well as creating plant ID pages for The Field Museum of Natural History. Last fall, Kathleen made it known that she was interested in developing her landscape drawing skills, and that she was looking to retreat into nature to paint and draw.
“The goal of the Artist in Residency program is to highlight the beauty of our Cook County forest preserves, and especially the spiritually rejuvenating effects of camping in the outdoors,” explains Kathleen. “Unplugging, being outside for hours at a time soaking in the sounds and sights of nature, is essential to our humanness. Camping makes us simplify, connect more deeply with one another, relax, and feel part of something far greater and older than ourselves.”
She will spend her days working on painting the landscapes surrounding Camp Bullfrog Lake and other preserves, and will have public viewing of her working process each day. In addition to painting and drawing, Kathleen will help the Forest Preserves think about how to continue attracting artists to use Forest Preserves assets for creative rejuvenation and inspiration, as well as provide recommendations for an ongoing Artist in Residence program.