Western Prairie is one of Minnesota’s 160 Scientific and Natural Areas, which preserve natural features and rare resources of exceptional scientific and educational value across the state in a wide variety of natural landscapes. I visited 10 of these places in 2014 as part of a Minnesota State Arts Board visual artist’s grant and left swaths of raw silk submerged for weeks to stain them in these bogs, rivers and lakes. The pieces were then stitched, felted and printed with ink, beeswax and pigment to represent each site’s topography.
Western Prairie Scientific and Natural Area is home to a population of GREATER PRAIRIE CHICKENS. Best known for their spectacular courtship and mating rituals, this chicken-sized bird once numbered in the millions. Its populations in many parts of the United States are imperiled. Minnesota’s populations of this bird, however, are rebounding. This natural area also features a tallgrass prairie with few exotic plants, a natural community that is rare in Minnesota and throughout the United States.