National quilt exhibit raises awareness of endangered species

Exhibit available at Forest Preserve District of Will County centers starting June 19

Come out to one of the four visitor’s centers at the Forest Preserve District of Will County and see a national touring quilt exhibit designed to raise awareness of endangered species, locally and internationally.

The “Inspired by Endangered Species” quilt exhibition will be on display from June 19 to July 25 and will depict “vulnerable flora and fauna on 182 colorful 24-inch-by-24-inch handmade quilted panels,” species that are “being affected by habitat loss, overhunting, poaching, development or other threats,” according to a news release from the district.

Each site will display 45 or 46 for the duration of the exhibition.

Local species included in this quilting exhibit include the Hine’s emerald dragonfly, the Karner blue butterfly, the rusty patched bumble bee and the western prairie fringed orchid.

The following species are also depicted: the African elephant, black rhinoceros, California condor, Honduran emerald hummingbird, Indiana bat, Komodo dragon, scalloped hammerhead shark, southern sea otter and spruce-fir moss spider. Some of the plants featured are: Aleutian shield fern, corpse flower, Grandidier’s baobab tree, Kaua’i white hibiscus, Nellie Cory dwarf cactus and Virginia sneezeweed. Also included are quilts highlighting the Cuban painted snail, giant clam, Lake Titicaca water frog, Singapore freshwater crab and staghorn coral, according to the release.

Quilter, author and nature lover Donna DeSoto coordinated the exhibition.

“I wanted to do ‘Inspired by Endangered Species’ to communicate what we stand to lose if we don’t pay attention and take necessary steps to save animals and plants that are disappearing,” DeSoto said in the news release.

DeSoto worked with educators and scientists to create a list of endangered species. Participating quilters from all over the U.S. were assigned a species and then given the freedom to create a design that reflected their own interpretations.

Jenna Newcomb, the Forest Preserve’s supervisor of permitting and recreation, is expecting a large turnout because of the exhibit’s focus “on endangered animals all over the world,” she said in the release.

This “not only fits our district mission but piques the interest of people who may not otherwise be interested in quilting,” Newcomb said in the release.

Cindy Cain, public information officer for the Forest Preserve District of Will County, said the district will be tying other programming into the endangered species theme because of the quilt exhibition.

The quilt exhibit also has a companion book, “Inspired by Endangered Species – Animals and Plants in Fabric Perspectives,” which can be purchased at each location for $34.99. However, copies are limited.

In that book Wendy Strahm, a former International Union for the Conservation of Nature official, expressed hope that people will take actions to protect the environment.

“As you view the species in these marvelous works of art, contemplate what small changes we can make in our lifestyles that will reduce the pressure on the natural world we all share,” Strahm wrote. “Whether it is by reducing our travel by car or airplane, eating less meat, using less plastic, putting up nest boxes and insect hotels, helping frogs cross the road at spawning time, or a myriad of other activities, we can all do our bit.”


WHAT: “Inspired by Endangered Species” quilt exhibition

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays (except for Sugar Creek Administration Center, which is closed).

WHERE: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, 25055 W. Walnut Lane, Channahon; Isle a la Cache Museum, 501 E. Romeo Road/135th Street, Romeoville; Plum Creek Nature Center, 27064 S. Dutton Road, Crete Township; and Sugar Creek Administration Center, 17540 W. Laraway Road, Joliet

ETC: Visitors may take pictures and videos of the quilts. Touching quilts is not allowed. Quilt docents and Forest Preserve staff will share quilt details and answer questions at the sites. A limited supply of the exhibit’s book will be on sale at each location for $34.99.

INFO: Call 815-727-8700 or visit ReconnectWithNature.org.