Botanic drawings raise awareness of northwoods trees at risk

Throughout the summer, the residents of Fergus Falls will be paying attention to detail.

Four different venues – the Kaddatz Gallery, A Center for the Arts, the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center and the Minnesota State Community and Technical College – are hosting an exhibition of botanical drawings by ten Minnesota artists.

It’s called “Minnesota’s Boreal Forest at Risk: Vanishing Trees.”


Red Pine Branch

Pinus resinosa


Mary Ann O’Malley

The exhibit was inspired by the northern forest, which, due to several factors (fires, invasive insects, changing climate), is under increasing stress.

The artists, under the guidance of forest ecologist Dr. Lee Frelich and mycologist Dr. David McLaughlin – both at the University of Minnesota – concentrated their artistic efforts on the trees and plants most affected by these forces. They identified ten trees at risk, as well as 30 plants associated with these trees.


Jack Pine Tree, Pinus banksiana

colored pencil

Kathleen Reeves

Botanical art, for those who aren’t familiar with the field, is really more a combination of art and science, requiring extremely high standards of accuracy when it comes to describing the various parts of a plant. A small drawing or painting can easily take more than 50 hours to complete; many botanic artists will tell you that this meditative process creates a special relationship between the artist and subject.


Old Tamarack Branch

Larix laricina

graphite, watercolor

Debra Greenblatt

The exhibition runs through August 12, with a reception for the artists at the Kaddatz Gallery on July 7th.

On July 28th, the Kaddatz Gallery will also host a talk by Dr. Frelich on the changes to the Boreal Forest and Agassiz Lake Plain.

  • Sandra Laase

    I would like to request the the talk by Dr. Frelich on the changes to the Boreal Forest and Agassiz Lake Plain be made available online. Would this site provide a link? Thank you for considering my suggestion.

  • As a retired British Columbia professional forester, who was educated at U of M, I appreciate this exhibit and it’s alarming message. These species are the icons of the “North Woods” in Minnesota.

    In BC we experienced a massive killing of Lodgepole pine forests by bark beetles over thousands of hectares that has changed the ecosystem dramatically, to say nothing of the economy. All because a warmer climate that allowed the beetle larvae to survive winters and build population. It will happen in Minnesota too.

    We all need to take responsibility for reducing carbon emissions. Walk more, drive less.

  • Marianne Combs

    Hi Sandra – Gretchen Boyum of Kaddatz Galleries writes this:

    “We do record our Artists Lecture Series and air it in on the local public access television. I will talk to them about the possibility of having that available online.” Hope this helps!

  • Kat

    Here is the website address that has more information on the project and the changes to the boreal forest.

  • Amy Sharpe

    The exhibit will also be shown at Ripple River Gallery ( Aug. 17-Sept. 18. A reception for the artists will be held Sept. 3 from 2-5 p.m.