The last glacial meltdown, leaving enduring footprints in a gentle rhythm of moraines, drumlins, and eskers, borders the Driftless Area in the place I call home. Untouched by glacial fingers, the Driftless' lack of grinding ice spared dramatic geological features- bluffs, caves, sinkholes and springs. It also contains the largest concentration of cold water streams in the world. About 85% of the entire Driftless Area is in Wisconsin.
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail marks the boundary of the Driftless Area with the last glacial expansion cycle known as the Wisconsin glaciation. It is a work-in-progress, spanning about 1,200 miles.
Living within minutes of several segments of the Ice Age Trail, part of the National Park System, is pure delight. What a privilege- exploring this Ice Age juncture- earth process writ both large and soft upon the land. I am grateful to be a part of it.
Life here creates an indelible print on us. As an artist and naturalist deeply connected to place, I paint to honor my heartland- not specific landscapes or thoughts, but to capture energetic and emotional qualities while stimulating a sense of awareness and connection. It's about what lies deep in the bones. It's about balance and composition. It's about affinity and courage and luck.
Uncovering and honoring vestigial connections with life here acknowledges kinship to the natural world and begins to reconcile ecology ungraciously altered. It says, I'm listening, I care, and I am doing something.
The paintings on this page, and others, are available online here.
Artist and naturalist Michelle Louis has a vigorous curiosity about the natural world. She walks with intention in wild places at least 1,200 miles yearly, much of it on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. She makes art documenting her experience along the way and in her studio.