Since a 1990 exhibition at the British Museum of Natural History, Illinois botanical artist George Olson has been documenting the plant life of the American prairie through his large-scale drawings and watercolors. He is also actively involved in prairie propagation and educational efforts. Thirty-nine of Olson’s prairie botanical illustrations can be seen, allergy and bug free, in a new exhibition at the Dubuque Museum of Art opening August 15th. These detailed “plant portraits” show native tallgrass plants in full bloom as well as at the end of their life cycle when they have withered and browned. The artist collects his samples on hikes through the plants’ native habitats and brings them back to his studio.
Olson was a professor of art at the College of Wooster in Ohio from 1963 to 2000. His artwork has been shown throughout the United States and England. He and his wife reside in Woodhull, Illinois.