By Kristin Boza
Beverly/Morgan Park artist Elaine Miller is showcasing her latest works in “Remnants and Remains” at the Beverly Arts Center, Simmerling Gallery, 2407 W. 111th St. Miller’s passion for the natural world seeks to encourage others to enjoy and take care of the natural spaces around us. Her exhibit revolves around four mural-sized paintings based on the vegetation and landscape of the Dan Ryan Woods. The exhibit runs through Nov. 8 and is open Mon., 4 to 8 p.m. and Tues. through Thurs., 4 to 6 p.m., and admission is free.
Miller became inspired by the Dan Ryan Woods during her daily walks there with her dog. She also completed a series of similarly-themed billboards in 2018 through a grant received from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events aimed at promoting the Dan Ryan Woods. The billboards, located along Western Avenue, void of any words, instead focusing on the beautiful landscape right in our own backyards.
“These billboards were like anti-advertising and meant to show people how much we are inundated with advertising,” Miller said. “I got the idea for my new exhibit from the billboard project to further this message that we should think more about reconnecting our society with the natural world and the importance of our urban forests.”
Four 8–foot by 10-foot canvasses are installed in the Simmerling Gallery, along with ten smaller works that further explore the intersection of urban and natural spaces. Each of the large pieces corresponds to a different season and time of day in the forest; spring is in morning light, summer at noon, fall is late afternoon, and winter is night.
The paintings are first composed using acrylic paint, and Miller then uses her reference photographs to complete the paintings in oil paint. Each piece took anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete.
“The seasons and time of day demonstrate how the change of seasons coincides with the circle of life,” Miller said. “It’s a very emotional response to nature and our ecosystem and the work is meant to make people aware of climate change and how we are impacting our environment. I hope people will start to wake up and realize that this little scrap of forest preserve is really important and we need to care for it. My work is about how we’ve lost our connection to nature to our own detriment.”
Miller’s work is also displayed during this year’s Alt Walk at Oak and Bloom, 9909 S. Walden Pkwy.
Find out more about Elaine Miller’s work at EMillerStudio.com.