Evanston Made’s Art for the Earth event showcases nature art around the city


Photo courtesy of Erin Drewitz

As part of Art for the Earth, Erin Drewitz, an Evanston-based artist, photographs nature’s artistic elements.

Melina Chalkia, Reporter

Educate, engage and inspire. Those are Evanston Made’s goals this Earth Month as the group organizes a collaborative nature art exhibit that is out of this world. 

Art for the Earth 2021, running through April 30, invites residents to explore the natural treasures of Evanston and create art inspired by them. Participants can create their nature art either at a green public space or their own backyard and share a photo of their creation on social media and to the Evanston Made team.

Chelsea Lytle, another Evanston artist featured at Art for the Earth, works with birds and bugs to create nature art. (Courtesy of Chelsea Lytle)

According to Liz Cramer, Evanston Made co-director and the event’s leader, the nature art exhibit began last year as a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Month to raise awareness about climate change. Cramer said last year’s event was also an expression of gratitude to the frontline workers of the pandemic. 

After the success of both last year’s event and this year’s Winter Wonderland, Cramer said Evanston Made is reintroducing Art for the Earth this month to get all residents involved.

“The main goal is this community-wide push to get everybody out and use elements of nature to create art,” Cramer said. “We are encouraging everyone to create things in their own yard, in green spaces around town parks or the lakefront.”

Cramer said that the event plans to focus on land art –– sculpting the land itself or creating beautiful structures, patterns and mandalas from natural materials. She gave the example of making a heart in someone’s yard out of sticks, stones, flower petals or seeds. 

Art for the Earth also features a few in-person outdoor events for Evanston residents, including an observation of an installation at the Lee Street beach, a nature sketching workshop and a seed exchange at the Harbert-Payne Park Shelter and the Ecology Center. 

Tom Albrecht uses a wood turning machine and local woods from Evanston to create decorative and practical objects. (Courtesy of Tom Albrecht)

According to Cramer, the event aims to produce art that engages, inspires and educates people.

“Art has the ability to touch people in a different way than they get from other things, like reading books or hearing people speak about how much we need to protect the Earth,” Cramer said. 

Cramer emphasized the importance of encouraging people, especially young kids, to engage with nature in order to understand how everything is interconnected.

Tom Albrecht, a retired Evanston teacher, has been making nature art for about 45 years. He creates functional wood work, like bowls and decorative pieces, using woods that are coming down from local trees. 

Albrecht said he enjoys architectural wood turning because he gets to create something out of a living organism. 

“For me it’s the moving on of something that was once alive and now serves another purpose,” Albrecht said. “Each piece I use might come from the same tree, but a different section of the tree, and it’s more like snowflakes; there is no one and the same.” 

Resident Erin Drewitz, who photographs landscapes and various elements in nature, said nature art enables her to observe the visual world and preserve the interactions between light and space.

Art therapist and Evanston Made board member Angela Lyonsmith, joins Art for the Earth to create a pinecone installation at Leider Park. (Courtesy of Liz Cramer)

Through this observation, she said she can place greater value on protecting the natural space. 

“Part of the purpose of my art is to express that appreciation for — and observation of — the spaces that are often overlooked, because we recognize those spaces for their function alone,” Drewitz said. “Being able to share that with others feels kind of like having received a gift from the natural world.”

Drewitz said she finds the process of creating nature art a scavenger hunt, and enjoys exploring spaces that resonate with her. 

Cramer, of Evanston Made, encourages all residents to participate in Art for the Earth and become part of an artistic community, focusing on the preservation of the planet. 

“It’s easy for people to say that climate change is something happening someplace else and somebody else will take care of it,” Cramer said. “We felt we could use art to get that message across and to really bring it to a wider audience.” 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @ChalkiaMelina

Related Stories: 

Evanston Made, Canal Shores embrace the cold with a nature art treasure hunt

McCormick students prepare to launch sustainable fashion consulting company

Evanston printmaker Socorro Mucino talks sustainable art, quarantine inspiration