Genius Loci: Learning from Nature’s Muse

A Call for Entries

Basic Info:

Call for greater Chicago area visual artists, designers, and architects to participate in Genius Loci: Learning from Nature’s Muse an exhibition sponsored by the Friends of Ryerson Woods (FRW) and curated by Franck Mercurio, independent arts consultant, curator, and writer.

Deadline for submissions: Friday, 30 March 2012

The exhibition opens Sunday, July 8, 2012 and closes Friday, August 31, 2012.  The venue is Brushwood, a historic home located on the property of the Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area, or Ryerson Woods,  near Deerfield, Illinois

Genius Loci is one of four art exhibitions currently being planned for Brushwood as part of FRW’s Lessons from the Prairie series of public programs for 2012.  The series offers perspectives on the ways human society can learn from our prairie ecosystem in particular, and natural systems broadly speaking.  In addition to art exhibitions, programs will include lectures, workshops, and film screenings.  To see a full listing, please visit the Friends of Ryerson Woods website:

The Concept:

The ancient Romans believed that every place on Earth is protected by a guardian spirit or genius loci, literally “spirit of place.” Today, we use this Latin phrase to mean the collective characteristics—cultural, environmental, and psychological—that define a specific locale and distinguish it from all others.

Throughout history, some of the most successful works of art and architecture were created by people who captured the genius loci of natural places—their works seem to fit seamlessly within the environments that inspired them. This legacy of listening to and learning from the genius loci continues today as a new generation of artists and designers responds to Nature. What lessons are contemporary artists and designers deriving from different natural regions such as grasslands, mountains, forests, and coastal areas?  The group exhibition, Genius Loci: Learning from Nature’s Muse, addresses this central question.

The Exhibition:

As mentioned above, we are interested in displaying works by visual artists, designers, and architects.  Emphasis and priority will be given to new works of art and new design projects. The exhibition will feature, but is not limited to: paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, installations, video/film, new media, graphic design, design drawings, and presentation renderings. Between 10 to 12 artists and designers will be selected for inclusion in the exhibition.

Works must demonstrate a response to a specific natural place, ecosystem, or habitat. Which particular genius loci serves as your muse? What lessons has it taught you as an artist or a designer? How does your work fit harmoniously within a particular natural place, either literally or figuratively?

Works will be displayed in the gallery spaces of Brushwood and on the grounds immediately surrounding the house. This historic structure is located within the 556-acre Ryerson Woods forest preserve surrounded by woods, prairie, and the Des Plaines River providing a natural setting with a genius loci all its own.

Inclusion in this exhibition will bring greater visibility of the artists’ or designers’ work to a North Shore audience.  Announcements of the exhibition (including the names of all selected artists) will be promoted on the FRW website, eblasts, Facebook, Twitter, and through press releases to area media outlets. A PDF of the official announcement will be given to all participating artists and designers for distribution.

Requirements for submissions:

– Artists/designers must live, work, or teach within the greater Chicago region (including northwestern Indiana and southeastern Wisconsin).

– Please submit no less than 3 and no more than 6 JPG images of your work. File size should be a minimum of 300 dpi. Please indicate title, size and medium of each piece. Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Submission does not guarantee inclusion in show.

– In addition to electronic images, please submit a brief (100 words or less) statement describing your work and how it fits within the conceptual framework of the show.

– Please keep in mind that all flat artwork (photographs, paintings, prints, etc.) selected for inclusion in the exhibition will need to be framed or mounted to rigid substrate.  Brushwood is a historic building and walls cannot be punctured.  Instead, artwork is hung using the Walker hanging system.


– Deadline for submissions is Friday, March 30.

– Response to submissions is Monday, April 16.

– Opening reception will be on Sunday, July 8, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

– If selected, artist attendance at opening event will be mandatory.

– Selected artists will be required to sign an Artist Agreement and deliver pieces to Brushwood no later than Monday, July 2

– Closing date is Friday, August 31

Artists may choose to put their pieces up for sale.

FRW receives a 15% commission on all sales.

There is no fee for submission for this show.

Send JPGs, your artist statement, and your contact information to:

The Curator:

Franck Mercurio is an independent arts consultant, curator, and writer based in Chicago.  Before starting his own consultancy business, Franck served for eight years as an exhibition developer for the Field Museum.  He recently curated the Art of Green (10 July 2011 – 31 August 2011) for Friends of Ryerson Woods, an exhibition that featured the work of twelve regional artists and designers who are creating art and designing objects in sustainable ways.

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