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.