Featured Artist: Carrie Carlson
At Brushwood Center, we are responding to the COVID-19 crisis by doing what we strive to do year round: build a community around nature and the arts. To help lift up the struggling arts community during this difficult time, we are highlighting a different nature-inspired artist each week and sharing their story with you. We encourage you to reflect on the impact of art in your life, and look for ways to support artists in our community.
This week, we are featuring one of our favorite nature artists, printmaker Carrie Carlson. Carrie has been a regular feature at our Holiday Art Markets and group shows over the past several years, and we adore her vibrant, modern style. In addition to being an accomplished artist, she is an educator and scientist, and a staunch advocate for nature and the environment.
Carrie's Artist Statement:
"As a scientific illustrator, art and science are tightly twined together in my life and I am inspired to celebrate this through landscapes, botanical studies and portraits of nature’s smallest objects and winged creatures. I hope to reveal a bit of the wonderment I find in simple subjects by drawing attention to something beautiful or unique about them that might normally be overlooked or taken for granted. I am especially interested in raising awareness about issues faced by threatened or exploited populations, be they human, bird or bumblebee.
Field sketching is a cornerstone of scientific illustration. I cannot imagine visiting a local zoo, much less traveling abroad, without a sketchbook. Travel and field sketching generate a deeper appreciation for humanity and the planet. The act of drawing forces us to slow down, to notice, reflect, cherish, and consider… What I gain from these experiences is a passionate environmentalism and driving responsibility to speak up for under-served populations. Through my artwork, I pray my steady, hopeful voice brings greater attention to how we can contribute to solutions and healing.
If field sketching sparks new awareness and intimacy with the natural world, then creating finished prints satisfies an eagerness for studio challenges. I greatly enjoy learning the age-old processes of traditional printmaking. Relief printing, linoleum block in particular, has been an especially satisfying outlet for my creative energies."
"I once heard a pastor say, "Ecology is Doxology," and that pretty much sums it up for me. My spirit finds hope and courage, learns patience and grit, experiences joy and community most clearly out in nature. I'm inspired to raise awareness and advocate for environmental causes."
Watch Carrie in Action
Want to try your hand at coloring one of Carrie's prints? You can download a copy of her print, "Reverie,":
Follow Carrie Carlson Online
You can learn more about Carrie's work and purchase her prints by visiting her Etsy shop or her website. You can also keep up with her by following her on Facebook or Instagram.
Featured Artist: Heeyoung Kim
At Brushwood Center, we are responding to the COVID-19 crisis by doing what we strive to do year round: build a community around nature and the arts. This crisis is heavily affecting arts organizations and artists, as major art festivals, fairs, performances, and exhibitions that provide critical support and income are canceled or postponed. To help lift up the arts community during this difficult time, we will be highlighting a different nature-inspired artist each week and sharing their story with you. We encourage you to reflect on the impact of art in your life, and look for ways to support artists in our community.
For our first spotlight, we are featuring our internationally-renowned artist in residence, Heeyoung Kim. Heeyoung has been part of the Brushwood family since 2011. She began with her first solo show, and soon after started teaching her weekly classes at Brushwood Center.
In the spirit of natural history artists of the past, award winning contemporary botanical artist Heeyoung Kim documents and depicts native plants of prairies and woods in Midwestern USA. Giving priority to rare and endangered species, she also paints common ones when they have high ecological value. Rare orchid species are also her favorite painting subjects. Believing that humans can only survive when plants and pollinators thrive, Kim actively engages with locals to draw public attention to plant conservation through her exhibitions, talks at garden clubs, or nature and art related activities with students. Founder of Heeyoung Kim Botanical Art Academy, Kim is an internationally renowned botanical artist and instructor. She teaches the ancient art form of scientific plant illustration at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods.
"Everything in nature leaves me in awe, large or small, floral or faunal, living or non-living..... I am always awakened and amazed by the beauty and perfect design of every part of Mother Nature, and I strive for expressing my enlightened self in art."
Free Tutorial for Brushwood Followers:
Heeyoung has generously provided two free monarch butterfly coloring pages for Brushwood members to print out at home! Simply follow the link to her online store and enter the code "BRUSHWOOD" at checkout to download. You can also follow along with her step-by-step coloring tutorial on YouTube!
Follow Heeyoung Online
You can learn more about Heeyoung's classes, view her portfolio, and purchase her work by visiting her website. You can also keep up with her by following her on Facebook or Instagram.
Heeyoung's Most Recent Exhibitions
5th Annual: Enriching Life - Botanical Art Exhibition, Heeyoung Kim & Brushwood Botanical Artists. November 24, 2019 - January 12, 2020 at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods, Riverwoods, IL.
Heeyoung Kim: New Works - Orchid Watercolor Paintings. July 25- September 7, 2019, Joel Oppenheimer Gallery, Chicago, IL.
Botanical Art Worldwide, America’s Flora: Linking People with Plants through Botanical Art. 2018 - 2019, 4 venues in the United States.
Transylvania Florilegium, The Prince of Wales’s Botanical Art Documentation of Transylvania, Romania: May 23 - July 31, 2018, Embassy of Romania, London. Kim’s three watercolor paintings are included in the royal collection.
Never underestimate the power of community in a time of crisis. Artists and volunteers from Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods are rising to the occasion to address the dire need for face masks across Lake County’s healthcare community. With the help of mask-making kits from Brushwood’s Art Supply Exchange, more than 1,000 masks have already been distributed to hospitals, clinics, and assisted living centers.
What Brushwood Center is Doing:
Many local healthcare providers face a serious shortage of protective face masks in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. As an organization dedicated to wellness that partners with multiple health care organizations throughout Lake and Cook Counties, Brushwood Center is mobilizing its community to meet this need.
Through online coordination of local artists, volunteers, and community partners, and with the material supplies from their very own BASE (Brushwood Art Supply Exchange) Brushwood is assisting in supplying much needed face masks. To date, kits to assemble well over 1,400 face masks have been distributed, and more than one thousand finished face masks have been delivered to healthcare workers in need. Mask fabrics represent the vitality and community spirit of the Chicago area, ranging from sports team patterns to cheerful spring flowers. Mask donation recipients include Vista Medical Center in Waukegan, Fenix Family Health Center in Highwood, Lake Forest Northwestern Hospital, Cedar Lake Assisted Living in Lake Zurich, Advocate Lutheran General, and the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago.
“The need for protective equipment is urgent, and Brushwood Center’s community of artists and volunteers have really stepped up to the challenge. People are excited to help. Volunteers do the sewing, and we make sure the masks are delivered to the places that truly need them.” Catherine Game, Executive Director, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods."
How You Can Help:
For those who would like to contribute to support our healthcare heroes, all you need is basic sewing knowledge and instructions for mask sewing which are available on the Brushwood Center website www.brushwoodcenter.org. The materials needed are simple cotton fabric, elastic/fabric ties, and sewing equipment.
Donate your sewn masks to Brushwood Center’s front porch in the donation bin. Their mighty team of volunteers will handle the donation pick-ups and delivery to healthcare centers. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us via Facebook when you have dropped off your masks so we can track quantity.
Drop off between sunrise and dusk on the Brushwood Center front porch: 21850 North Riverwoods Road, Riverwoods, IL.
It’s okay if there are small differences between masks. There are many instructional videos available online as well that you can reference.
Throughout our area there are other organizations with similar mask drives. Wherever you choose to put your energy, just know that it is appreciated.
BASE (Brushwood Center Art Supply Exchange)
BASE is a creative reuse center operated by Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods where your unwanted art and craft supplies can find new life. BASE provides materials, tools and education at very low-cost to the public, and free to educators and community partners. BASE remains closed due to COVID-19 through the end of April.
Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods is excited to announce our membership in the Green Wedding Alliance!
Green Wedding Alliance is a growing list of resources that connects various environmentally and socially conscious businesses with consumers who wish to be conscious of the impact of their event. GWA, which began in 2010, is the brainchild of co-founders Lynn Fosbender, owner of Pollen Floral Design, and Amanda Eich and Tony Vassallo, who own Spilled Ink Press. Both businesses are invested in sustainable and eco-friendly operating methods - as are the 50+ businesses affiliated with the Alliance.
At Brushwood Center, we are dedicated to nurturing personal and community wellbeing through nature. Through programming and events, we aim to teach the importance of creativity and community-centered environmental stewardship. One of the ways that we do this is by providing a gathering space in nature for events and retreats - always keeping sustainability at the forefront.
Catherine Game, Brushwood Center’s executive director, had a few words to say about our involvement with GWA.
“We are so excited to be able to create a space where people can hold celebratory events, like weddings, parties, and retreats in a beautiful setting like Ryerson Woods. It is also extremely important that we are good stewards to the area we are occupying. This partnership will allow us to provide new resources for people who want to be mindful of their footprint on their special day.”
Through our membership in the Green Wedding Alliance, we hope to reach more people who are interested in hosting sustainable, mindful events in a serene, natural environment. We can’t wait to see how much more we’ll be able to accomplish with GWA and the other like-minded businesses involved in the alliance!
For more information on rentals, click here.
Christmas Bird Count
On Saturday, December 21st, Brushwood Center partnered with Nuestro Center and Audubon Great Lakes' Wild Indigo program to participate in a Christmas Bird count at Ryerson Woods. Forty families from Nuestro Center's program came out to Brushwood Center to conduct the count, and celebrate afterwards with crafts, hot cocoa and pan dulce.
With clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-forties, it was a perfect day for a hike. Staff from Audubon went through some common species in English and Spanish with participants, and instructed students on how to properly use binoculars. The fifth grade students had done bird identification activities with Wild Indigo the week before, and were eager to put their newfound knowledge to the test.
Everyone split up into three different groups for the hike, each led by an Audubon staff armed with identification guides and binoculars for students to share. Almost immediately, it became clear that the students were taking this mission very seriously. Pausing often, students slowly raised their binoculars up as they squinted at the tree tops. Every few seconds, silence broke as they excitedly reported their discoveries:
After some double-checking with staff and the ID guides, the species was recorded. Students got more and more excited as they discovered rarer birds, and even other animals they had never seen before. One group caught a rare glimpse of a double-crested cormorant soaring overhead. Another group walking along the Des Plaines River was lucky enough to spot a beaver slipping back into its den.
The students were excited as they explored these new dimensions of nature, and very determined to count every bird they could. They shushed one another when conversations got too loud, worried that birds might be scared away. They cooperated on identifications, and eagerly showed their parents their findings. After about an hour on the trails, everyone headed back inside Brushwood Center for hot cocoa and conchas, and a craft activity making paper Cardinal ornaments.
In total, we recorded 18 species and 98 birds during our hike (detailed in table below). Students were emphatic as they identified species they had never seen before, and parents enjoyed the quality time outdoors with their kids. Topped off with delicious snacks and a fun craft, it was the perfect way to end 2019 programming!
"At Ease" in the News
Brushwood Center's At Ease Program is an innovative approach to empower military veterans’ wellbeing through a series of nature-based art and photography workshops.
Over the past few months, the program has been picked up by several local new stations. Click below to explore the different coverage and learn more about At Ease!
Fox 32: 'At Ease' program uses Mother Nature to heal the wounds of war
ABC 7 Chicago: Riverwoods program helps veterans heal through nature photography
NBC 5 Chicago: Group Offers 'At Ease' Photography Workshop to Help Veterans
"It's just really a special place." Prairies predate people in this state, but are now rare and endangered ecosystems due to years of farming and land use change. Luckily, the presence of the power lines kept development beneath them at bay, and saved this small patch from demolition. Twenty years ago, ComEd recognized the ecological importance of this site and took the opportunity to step in and protect the land themselves. Under the care of the Buffalo Grove Prairie Guardians, a group of volunteer stewards, the prairie has flourished and is home to over a hundred different species, including some that are federally threatened and endangered. "It's just a really special place", said Prairie Guardian Jeff Weiss. "There aren't many quite like it."
This hidden gem was pulled into the spotlight on Friday, August 25th as it became the muse of the Brushwood Center’s At Ease program. At Ease is an innovative program that collaborates with the James A. Lovell Federal Healthcare Center to connect veterans to the arts and the opportunity to explore and restore in nature. This program builds on research showing that exposure to nature and the arts improves mental health, self-esteem, and other obstacles that veterans may face during their transition to civilian life. The participants are equipped with DSLR cameras, a brief lesson, and then are turned loose into nature to explore their surroundings--and their creativity.
The power of art and nature to showcase, support, and reinforce one another often goes understated. The goal of Brushwood Center is to bring people to this intersection, and demonstrate the importance of nature for nurturing well-being, cultivating creativity, and inspiring learning. Programs like At Ease help to extend this mission to under-served populations in our communities. For more information about At Ease and programs like it, visit brushwoodcenter.org
In early October, Brushwood staff made a trip to Nuestro Center to partake in the Symbolic Migration Program through Journey North. Each student decorated their own paper monarch to send to a classroom in Michoacán, Mexico, the region that the monarchs migrate to in the fall. Students were told that their monarch should serve as an ambassador of their town and themselves. One student chose to draw their favorite athlete’s jersey, while others decorated their butterfly’s wings with hearts, or flowers, or in one case, a pepperoni pizza. Two wrote a special message in Spanish for their new friends: nunca se rinde—never give up. In the spring, the students will receive a different packed of butterflies from their friends in Michoacán, and the migration cycle will be complete.
This blog is written by the staff and partners of Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods