Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 22, 2012: “Ada Hayden, Visionary of the American Prairie”

Bobolink, oil painting by Celeste Birkeland, 18” x 24”.

News from Lanesboro Arts Center, Lanesboro, Minn. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
Contact: Sara Decker, Program/Marketing Director
507-467-2446 /

Announcing an Online Exhibit by Painter Celeste Birkeland: “Ada Hayden, Visionary of the American Prairie”

Lanesboro Arts Center is pleased to support artist Celeste Birkeland in an on-line exhibit of oil/mixed media paintings entitled Ada Hayden, Visionary of the American Prairie. Formerly of Lanesboro, Celeste now paints from her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, experiencing a significant cultural and climatic change (she is now surrounded by the high desert). The exhibit can be seen online at or

The idea for the exhibit came about several years ago, when Celeste first visited the Ada Hayden Prairie Preserve in northeast Iowa. “I was captivated by the bobolinks. The colorful birds were flitting around the scrap of native prairie, a mere 240 acres of virgin prairie surrounded by an ocean of corn and soybeans,” says Celeste. Dr. Hayden (1884–1950) was ahead of her time in recognizing the value, importance and beauty of the prairies. Ada Hayden saw the prairie around her being changed forever and had the vision to see its beauty and necessity; blending art and science throughout her life, she used art, eloquent writing, and science to advance her cause. “These ten paintings and narrative text on the website are my homage to Ada Hayden and our native prairie landscape. They represent a new direction for my art, and a way to create art that really matters to me. I am especially excited to make connections between art and science, history and the role/lives of women,” says Celeste. 

More than 99% of our original grasslands are gone, making it one of America's most endangered ecosystems. In fact, our indigenous prairie landscape ranks among the most threatened plant and animal systems in the world. Ada Hayden, Visionary of the American Prairie is ultimately about Ada Hayden and the indigenous prairie that once covered huge sections of our country. The paintings pay tribute to Ada Hayden’s artistic side as well as her scientific side. “I wanted the paintings to be interpretive, imaginative and not especially realistic, reflecting Ada Hayden’s ability to transcend,” says Celeste.

This exhibit is presented in cooperation with the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, Inc. through funding from the Minnesota State Legislature, and with support from Lanesboro Web Management, Lanesboro Arts Center, Iowa State University and its Ada Hayden Herbarium.

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