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Photo by Sam Evans

Terry Evans

The prairie ecosystem is a guide for Terry Evans. She photographs the prairies and plains of North America and the urban prairie of Chicago. Combining both aerial and ground photography, she delves into the intricate and complex relationships that join land and its inhabitants.

Evans has exhibited widely including one-person shows at Art Institute of Chicago, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, The Field Museum of Natural History, and Amon Carter Museum of Art. Her work is in museum collections including Museum of Modern Art, New York, Art Institute of Chicago, Nelson–Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City and many others. Terry Evans books include Heartland: The Photographs of Terry Evans and Prairie Stories. She is a Guggenheim Fellow.

Artist Statement

I feel like I’ve always known the bur oak, but then I remember that I didn’t meet the tree until the winter of 2018. The first picture I have of the bur oak is from December 11, 2018, a flash in the life of the bur oak which is well over 300 years old. I visit the tree often because when I see it, I remember that it has been there since long before Jackson Park, since long before Chicago, when that land was an open oak savanna. This bur oak perhaps was known by Indigenous Peoples of the Council of Three Fires. 

These pictures are about the beauty, resilience and strength, the vitality of the everchanging life of that bur oak. It looks different every time I see it. Most of the constructed images follow a season of visits to the bur oak, known in my family as, “the tree”. I want viewers to be able to explore the tree with their eyes, to stand in front of a picture and recognize the tree’s endurance, to see time passing. One recent summer, the bur oak had an infection, its leaves were riddled with holes all the way throughout its branches. I called the city arborist who came out to look at it and said the infection was not life threatening. The next summer, the tree looked radiant with glossy big green leaves. Last week, when I was there, the tree somehow looked bigger and stronger than ever! I rejoice in kinship with this bur oak even as I grieve the losses of climate change. The bur oak’s story is one of resilience and gives me hope.

Release Date: April 26, 2024

This particular bur oak picture is a single image, with one small leaf addition, made especially for f22 Fine Art Prints. See the series of multiple image bur oak pictures on my website under Ancient Prairies.

Bur Oak, 2023

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