Danielle Pahlisch: Artist in Residence at Shannon Preserve
May 18, 2020 | Topics: featured artist
The Natural Realm presents Danielle Pahlisch, who is one of 12 artists participating in a year-long residency program called ARTservancy, a collaboration between Gallery 224 in Port Washington and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, River Revitalization Foundation, Milwaukee Area Land Conservancy and the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory. The mission of ARTservancy is to promote the visionary work of both the artists and conservationists. Each artist has selected a preserve to spend time in and to engage with.
Artist Statement by Danielle Pahlisch
I believe that at some point in their career, most artists will struggle in search of the meaning and vision of their work. This is something I experienced first-hand in the years following my graduation from art school. I explored techniques and concepts that did not feel true to the mark I really wished to make in this world. With no sense of direction, my tools went unused and my camera tucked away.
Then, in the Spring of 2016, a coyote and I met face to face in the woods. As we locked eyes, I felt the stirrings of inspiration deep in my soul. I was transformed by the presence of this other-than-human being. I immersed myself in everything related to coyotes after that chance encounter. From there, my focus expanded to their ecology and the other lifeforms in those same ecosystems. The coyote was the conduit that reconnected me to a total awe of nature that I hadn’t felt so intensely since I was a child. I finally knew that, as an artist, I was meant to create in the service of nature.
I was thrilled when I found out I would be participating in the ARTservancy program and would be paired with Shannon Preserve, which offers a variety of ecosystems within its borders. For the last several years, I’ve become fascinated with the intricacy of relationships between living organisms and the cyclical processes of the natural world. I knew that the variety of habitats would allow me to observe the relationships between wetland, prairie, and woodland species, and how they might change seasonally.
Each visit to the preserve forces me to slow down and access my senses in ways that are drowned out in a fast-paced world. In the winter, the absence of foliage and an ice-covered marsh allowed me easy access to the landscape and wildlife at the preserve. In contrast, the ice melt and new growth of spring has made those same areas far less accessible. With each new visit, I began to create scenes in my imagination that exist beyond what my camera lens is able to capture. I am creating “memory boxes” that are inspired by photo documentation, real experiences in the preserve, and also invented imagery. The scenes will be assembled in shadow boxes from layers that include photographs, watercolors, and sculptural elements.
I believe that the future of ecological and wildlife conservation depends on helping people feel a sense of connection to nature, especially those who have either lost their connection or have not had the privilege to explore a wild space. By creating these visual windows into my own experience, I hope to inspire my viewers to create their own memories in nature.
I am an artist and photographer living and working in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Arts from UW Milwaukee and studied painting techniques and Art History in Florence, Italy at the Santa Reparata International School of Art. I have won awards for wildlife photography from organizations such as Wisconsin Images for Conservation. I currently serve on several local nature boards, and work seasonally with the Milwaukee County Parks Department to remediate and conserve the natural areas of Milwaukee County.
This is the latest in our series of featured artists, which is intended to showcase the work of photographers, artists, writers and other creative individuals in our community whose subjects or themes relate in some broad sense to nature, urban nature, people in nature, etc. To see a list of previously featured artists, click here. The work of the current ARTservancy artists in residence will be exhibited at Gallery 224 in September 2020. To meet the other ARTservancy artists in residence, click here.
Shannon Preserve is owned and managed by Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, which is also a partner organization to A Wealth of Nature.
All images courtesy of the artist, except as noted. All images were taken at Shannon Preserve during the residency period, except “Coyote” and “Buck,” which were taken previously. The featured image at the top of Danielle Pahlisch at Shannon Preserve is by Eddee Daniel.