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Morris Library

Art Shows: Wildflowers

Morris Libary regularly hosts art shows in its first floor Rotunda. Here's information on current and past events.

splashy graphic for the wildflower show. text is repeated below.

The real wonder of wildflowers is that they adapt so effortlessly to the different conditions they find themselves in. If ever there was a flower that epitomizes the idiom “bloom where you are planted,” it’s the wildflower. We could all take a cue from these wild, free and yet still rooted plants. They are resilient, untamed, beautiful, surprising, colorful, and unpredictable. There’s a lot to love about them.

Visit the show in the Morris Library first floor rotunda, May 10 - August 10, 2024.

Featuring these local artists: Jan York, Kathy Wides, Jen Wharton, Jeannie Ravenscraft, Julie O. Murphy, Laura Marjorie Miller, Beth Martell, Shannon Green, Jonny Gray, Cathy Daesch, and Rhonda Branum.

Jan York

A detailed painting of a column of pale blue-petaled flowers against a black background.
2” x 36”

I have been painting for over 50 years and still enjoy the feeling like a child. I have always been fascinated with flowers. How they come so quickly, fade and go to seed. Feeling as if we, too, are like flowers, hopefully bringing beauty into the world, before we go to seed. When painting, I get lost in the way paint slides onto the canvas and blends with another to create yet more colors. And with flowers as my subject, I have an endless pallet, and I LOVE color. Enlarging the flowers brings forth their intricate folds, ruffles, veins, stems seeds hairs, etc. To honor these beautiful gifts, I paint them, hoping to preserve their enchantment.

Kathy Wides

painting with strong brushstrokes of bright white dogwood flowers and deep green leaves against a cloudless blue sky
16” x 20”?

Painting centers me and gives me joy. I choose subjects because they intrigue me. It could be a person with unique energy or something that draws me in on a walk. I may choose a subject because it is challenging to interpret. I chose the common violet because it is unremarked and unnoticed but absolutely everywhere. Its lovely purple is one of the first colors of spring I wanted to give it some love. The Dogwood is a flowering tree so maybe not a wildflower. But don’t we all wait every winter for that first white blossom on the side of the road? I wanted to thank it.

Laura Marjorie Miller

a long-bodied, long-tailed squirrel-like creature with coarse gray fure curled on a background of bright green leaves and tiny flowers, watching the viewer with wide yellow eyes.
“Future Wolf”
20” square

At the end of May 2024, I'm attending a conference in Devon that contemplates the reintroduction of wolves to Britain, where they long ago were extirpated. When I learnt the theme of this exhibition was to be wildflowers, I'd already had the notion of painting a picture of a Wolf and flowers, so in that moment I knew exactly what Wolf and what flowers! This painting imagines a future Wolf spiraling into, and then nestled among, wildflowers which bloom in Devon meadows in the summertime: Stitchwort, Cuckooflower, and Lady's Bedstraw. The Wolf's fur coloration is inspired by that of the Wolves who reside at Wildwood Trust, one of the sponsors of the conference--along with Keep It Wild Devon, Rewilding Coombeshead, and Woop Woop magazine, which I have the privilege of writing features for. The Wolf's long-ago ancestors may have spent a blissful summer afternoon napping among these same flowers. And in this future now, they are restored to where they once lived—a place where they were always supposed to be.

Beth Martell

A soft-focus painting of a field of pink flowers against a background of dark green leaves and diffuse golden light.
“Field of Dreams”
24” x 36”

The real wonder of wildflowers is that they adapt so effortlessly to the different conditions they find themselves in. If ever there was a flower that epitomizes the idiom “bloom where you are planted,” it’s the wildflower. They are resilient, untamed, beautiful, surprising, colorful, and unpredictable. We could all take a cue from these wild, free and yet still rooted plants. There’s a lot to love about them. I’ve been busy wildflowering—blossoming in difficult terrain. My mom passed this winter. She gave me so many gifts. As the colors flow through my paintbrush, I have this to say about remembering her: “To me you were never ordinary. You were different, special, beautiful, and natural. You were a wildflower. And I still love that part of you that will always grow free.”

Cathy Daesch

painted in intense colors, blue and purple morning glory flowers, a buckeye butterfly with prominent eyespots, and the face a green-skinned woman with a classical profile and a serious expression.

13” square
Acrylic on board

My background is in the field of Graphic Design and Art Therapy Counseling. I am a Southwestern Illinois Art Therapist who paints, gardens and volunteers at a rescue ranch for happiness.

The love of nature has always been the biggest influence on my creative process. Working in my garden this spring was the motivation to paint these wildflowers. They were just beginning to come alive as my memory of last summer guided the paintbrush. The wildflower symbolizes a free spirit and independent thinker. Wildflowers represent unity to remind us that differences are important and necessary. They grow together naturally to become a colorful, fragrant invitation for the much needed pollinators of our world.

I call these wildflowers my Goddess Series connecting female deities, nature and storytelling to honor the wild spirit. My new mantra is “be a wildflower.”

Rhonda Branum

a painted landscape of rolling green hills under whispy white clouds, with feathery white and yellow flowers and two fluttering honeybees above

17” x 24”

Rhonda finds creation a constant source of awe, restoration, worship, and pure joy. In addition to painting, she enjoys photography, poetry, and quilting. Her happy places are with her family and friends as well as exploring any Shawnee National Forest trail. She and her husband, Joe, have lived in beautiful southern Illinois 30+ years. She is a retired Occupational Therapist.

All pieces were done with acrylic paints (with a final gloss medium acrylic glaze to seal/varnish.)

Somewhere in the middle of my grouping could I please have this verse, framed (preferably in a larger/bolder font if possible)? Thank you!

"Consider the wildflowers, how they grow...they neither toll nor spin...yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." ~ Jesus

Julie O. Murphy

Bold crayon strokes on canvas create a sunflower in the lower left, surrounded by thick lines in dark blue, red, and green.

12” x 15”
Crayon, oil pastels on treated canvas

Valley Spirit never dies
Primal Mother
Gateway to Heaven and Earth
Root of Heaven and Earth
Barely Seen
Never Failing
Valley Spirit counsels Peace
And the Way of the Waters
"Allow! – seek no struggle"
Struggle within only to find stillness"
Thereby hear Valley Spirit’s counsel.

--"Valley Spirit" by  Julie O. Murphy


Through the soles of the feet
Through the crown of the head
Be Still
Bird Song of Spring
Frog Song of Summer

--"Listen" by Julie O. Murphy

Jonny Gray

Watercolor painting of a row of false sunflowers stretching toward hazy clouds in shades of yellow, green, and blue

“Spring Fire”
13.25” x 13.25” (art 9.5” x 9.5”)
Mixed Media

Jonny Gray (a.k.a. Sister Mothra Stewart of the SOIL Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence) is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication Studies where he teaches courses in environmental rhetoric, visual communication, and arts-based advocacy for queer and environmental concerns. He currently serves as the faculty advisor and technical director for the Kleinau Theatre. In his free time, he enjoys exploring nature through hiking and plein air field sketching. However, his academic commitments in the spring severely limit his free time.

Shannon Green

Boldly textured painting of a bent sunflower and pink coneflowers against a background made up of a riot of colorful brushstrokes.
“Window on July”
12” x 24”

Shannon Green is an Artist & Educator who has lived and worked in Southern Illinois for over 20 years. Her art/pedagogy seeks to uplift themes of interdependence, community, sustenance, empathy, and connection to the worlds in which we live and move. While she creates with a variety of media, including ink, watercolor, acrylic, photography, collage, and fiber, she is most known for her impressionistic portraits of flowers from her own garden. Shannon is also a member of the Beloved Puppetistas, a local group of creatives who celebrate and advocate for the protection of our Earth and its incredible biodiversity.

Also displayed: “Showy Goldenrod”, 12” square, Acrylic, $85

Jen Wharton

macro photograph of a pink columbine blossom covered in morning dew lit up by oblique sunlight, sparkling

“Columbine with Dew”
8” x 10” (framed to 11” x 14”)
Photograph (matted & framed)

Dad quizzed me on the common names of wildflowers when I was a kid. There was a period of time that he carried a Canon AE-1 with a macro lens into the woods when we’d hike, and he’d photograph the wildflowers. I wasn’t interested in the least bit. It was time that I had to stand there patiently; his gear caddy.


I’m not sure what changed, but as I got older, I began to see the flowers as markers of time in the changing seasons. Spring ephemerals especially are a non-stop parade of old friends coming to visit each year, and always in the same order. I also noticed something about humans: when we have a name for something (accurate or made up, so long as it's consistent), we can better remember the thing, and we develop a relationship with it. We begin to notice what the thing likes and how it looks as it ages. We notice the subtle differences between two different flowers, both tiny and both blue. There is a connection between naming and caring to know.

And I project. Buds are heads and leaves are arms waving, trying to tell the world its message the only way it can without a mouth. I see clusters of flowers and fiddlehead ferns as families. Other flowers are jesters, if only to entertain themselves. When Monarda is barely blooming with just two petal pigtails, sepal arms outstretched to spin, she is a grown woman trying to pass as a child on the theater stage. Jack-in-the-pulpit finds himself irresistibly handsome with an upturned collar. Low bush blueberries crowd together with anxiety, and ironically vie one another for a better view. Prairie and green trillium have closely guarded secrets. (Just look at one's clenched black anther.) White trillium though is ready to kiss anyone and everyone, indiscriminately, eyes closed.

Recently, the flowers began introducing me to their relationships with insects. Flowers are grateful to be a structure for supporting life. And whether humans know it or not, flowers know that they continue being brilliantly beautiful even as they age, and even when insects or deer take them out prematurely. Flowers want us to see how they can manage to live indefinitely. Rhizomes or seeds, doesn’t matter. It’s the life of the flower slowly walking across the Earth.

Jeannie Ravenscraft

sharp photograph of two orange-red sunflower blooms against a clear blue sky
“Sunflower Sky”
8” x 10”

Wildflowers are a surprise in the muck of life. I love stumbling upon a group of wildflowers that have managed to emerge again from the darkness of the winter. It brings me hope that I also can emerge from a dark place. I recently lost my partner.  Seeing the life of wildflowers brings me joy.