When I was young, my family and I would take turns reading chapters out of Gene Stratton Porter novels on family road trips. With characters like Elnora, a girl who hunts for rare moths in bottomland woods, and Freckles, a boy who protects trees from lumber bandits in old growth forests, her novels provided a healthy dose of flora and fauna for the nature obsessed kid. Gene was a dedicated naturalist with a poetic appreciation for the natural world, and she imbued a love for Hoosier ecology into all of her stories.
This year I had the opportunity to collaborate with the Indiana State Museum and the Indiana Arts Commission to create an exhibit called The Artist-Naturalist, featuring the work of two female artists with a passion for Indiana ecology— Porter and myself. During the first half of the project I had the enjoyable task of immersing myself in Gene’s world, following in her footsteps through the Limberlost Swamp in Geneva, Indiana, and re-reading her books to gather inspiration for my paintings. The ensuing months were spent in the studio creating a series of fifteen watercolors, each based on a quote from one of Gene's written works. The paintings and quotes hung in the exhibit The Artist-Naturalist which traveled between the Limberlost State Historic Site and the Gene Stratton Porter State Historic Site from June to December, 2019.
Here is a selection of paintings and quotes from the exhibit along with a video that was created to explain the project and process behind the work: