CHESTERTON | A series of artworks depicting native perching birds by artist Melissa Washburn will be landing at Dunes Learning Center just in time for the spring migration — and for the center’s National Get Outdoors Day Open House and Picnic on June 8.
Washburn noticed that birds and nests were starting to pop up in her work with some regularity. In 2012, she received a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission to work on a series of mixed-media pieces depicting some of the migratory bird species that can be seen in the Dunes area of Northwest Indiana.
“I have been fascinated by birds for a long time,” Washburn said. “The grant allowed me to spend time drawing from the collections at Valparaiso University and the Field Museum of Natural History, spending time getting to know the anatomy and physiology of these amazing animals up close."
She also got to spend a lot of time among "bird people," who, the artist said, "defy categorization."
A conversation with Dunes Learning Center’s executive director led to the idea of exhibiting the works where visiting school groups and summer campers would have the opportunity to be inspired by and learn from the colorful series. A companion coloring book, made possible by Washburn’s wildly successful Kickstarter online fundraising effort, will make the series available to a wider audience.
The multi-media works will be exhibited in Dunes Learning Center’s Cowles Lodge through Aug. 19. The public may view the exhibition at a free National Get Outdoors Day event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 8. A limited number of coloring books will be distributed at the event. Visit www.duneslearningcenter.org to learn more, or to register.