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Into the Forest- Rewilding Grant Part 1

I'm finally ready to share something I’ve been low key working on over the past couple months. I’ve received a community art grant from Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s BeWild ReWild Fund to put together an art show.

I am beyond excited to be working on this project. I’ve always found wonder in nature and been working towards sharing that through my paintings. Now I have the opportunity to take it a step further and invite others into the rewilding conversation along with me. I am very grateful to have found a group that both inspires me, and shares many of the views that I’ve been exploring in my art.

This group is Rewilding Iowa.

My son, daughter and I on a fall hike.

I want to inspire others to trust nature. To reconnect with nature. I want people to grow things! Things like native grass, and flowers that feed our birds and butterflies, and spirits.

The art show will be about Iowa’s native prairie and woodlands and exploring a sacred connection with the land. There will also be a seed starting workshop to help people take their own steps toward personal rewilding.

I’ve been in the research and prep phase, and am almost ready to begin creating the first paintings for the show. I can’t wait o get started. These paintings will be larger than what I’ve done in a long time. The first ones focus on forests and trees. They will be mixed media paintings composed of natural and man-made items that I have found while on a number of early to late fall hikes.

I’ve been collecting bark and leaves and bottles. Old pop cans and crumbling paper bags. Did you know Pabst beer is a favorite of the woods? That the most trash can be found along deer trails that diverge off of those concrete paths cities keep insist on putting into wooded parks and preserves?

A few bags of the trash I've collected while hiking.

Our forests are full of trash. And a few hikes spent picking up with my family are not going to fix that.

I’m in the process of sorting out bits to use. I’ve left out parts of the trash to be cleaned by rain water, or rain barrel if necessary. The bottles in best shape will be recycled, but the worst pieces will be sadly sent off to the land fill.

I’ve also sorted out the pieces I find most interesting to work into the paintings. Here is a key, plastic mesh, and an old bubble wand. I’ve also been experimenting with forming the texture of tree bark from plastic bags.

I mentioned rewilding at the beginning of this post. I’m afraid an explanation from me would become quite wordy and meandering. So if you’re interested in learning more about Iowa’s rewilding movement check out their website BeWild Rewild.

Another part of my prep phase included quick sketches and inspiring reads. If you love trees and plants, like myself, check out The Secret Life of Trees by Peter Wolleben.

I'm looking forward to the next phase of creation. In the mean while, I'll be searching for a place to host the show. Wish me luck.


Recommended reading:

The Last Child in the Woods Richard Louv

Iris, collected poems of Mary Oliver

The Practice of the Wild Gary Snyder

The Secret Life of Trees Peter Wolleben

Iowa hiking for the project this far:

Yellow Banks River,

Bill Riley Trail

Ashwood Park

Ft Des Moines forest


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