‘World of Wonders’ art exhibit focuses on nature’s healing | Arts & Entertainment

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Bottom to top: Teresa Ellis, Clara de la Fuente and Jennifer Lask with their artwork outside Analog Wine Library in Urbana on Tuesday, April 11, 2023.

URBANA — A shared admiration of the natural world to escape the stressors of daily life brought together the visions of three local artists.

This year, that trio — Jennifer Lask, Clara de la Fuente and Teresa Ellis — have teamed up for a multimedia exhibit called “World of Wonders” in this year’s Boneyard Arts Festival, focused on nature’s ability to heal.

Through close-ups of flowers, landscapes of sunsets and familiar Midwest scenes in photographs, block prints and paintings, the artists hope their work, displayed in Analog Wine Library in Urbana, will urge viewers to visit for themselves.

“I think the person who comes to this show leaves feeling like ‘I need to spend more time in nature,’” de la Fuente said. “At the end of the day, life is hard as it is, so it’s important to take a minute to reflect on the experience and absorb what we should and let other things go.”

The three-day Boneyard Arts Festival invites Champaign County artists and venues to fill its cities with locally-sourced artwork. Hundreds of artists and 80 venues have signed up for the 21st annual showcase, run by county arts council 40 North | 88 West each spring.

The “World of Wonders” trio linked up months ago through a Facebook invite from de la Fuente, who wanted to find collaborators for her upcoming Boneyard exhibit. Lask and Ellis answered the call, bonding over their shared love of natural scenes as a muse for their work.

“With the pandemic, there have been a lot of times where you do feel a bit lonely. Maybe you don’t get to see someone that you love because you’re trying to keep them safe,” Lask said. “I know that whenever I have felt very stressed, I’ve found myself gravitating towards my camera and going out for a walk near my apartment or a park where there’s something beautiful to capture.”

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From left, Teresa Ellis, Clara de la Fuente and Jennifer Lask show off their artwork Tuesday outside Analog Wine Library in Urbana.

Ellis developed a similar habit, taking her camera on frequent nature hikes.

“When Clara put the call out online, it was sort of like the perfect thing falling from the heavens,” she said.

De la Fuente has made several colorful landscape paintings for the exhibit, in acrylic, watercolor and gouache. Ellis will present linoleum block prints of wildflowers and birds, plus new nature photographs of native plant species. Lask shot natural scenes from several communities in the Midwest and southwestern U.S.

“There are definitely some paintings Clara has done and photos Jen has taken, even though they’re completely independent creative pursuits, they were just begging to be put side by side,” Ellis said.

The exhibit is completely powered by women; all three artists are female, and Analog is woman-owned.

“World of Wonders” hosts its soft opening on Thursday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Visitors can meet and greet the artists on Friday at 9 p.m., and attend a live painting and printing show, based on one of Lask’s photos, on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Much of their new and limited-edition artworks will stick around Analog until early May. Like many other showcases around town, each piece is purchasable, up for delivery or pickup when the exhibition ends.

“There’s a synergy between everyone working together and this sense of community that totally shines in Boneyard,” de la Fuente said. “It’s humans at their best.”

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