Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Catalog of an exhibition produced by the Center for Great Plains Studies and Friends of the Center for Great Plains Studies, Lincoln, Nebraska. March 1-June 2, 2002. Copyright (c) 2002 by P. A. Johnsgard and the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska. ISBN 0-938932-11-X Photographs copyright Michael Forsberg.


Migrations of the imagination are those images, sounds, smells, and tastes that transport one to another time and place, possibly as close as Nine- Mile Prairie near Lincoln, or perhaps as far away as the Canadian high arctic, and to times that may be decades or centuries removed from one's personal life and experiences. They hold us in their thrall, expanding our vision, and touching our lives in special ways. They help retrieve our own memories or perhaps stir us to make new ones that will live with us for a lifetime.

The migratory images here are those of nature, especially of nature on the move, such as flocks of migrating cranes and waterfowl along the Platte Valley in spring or the more placid movements of prairie grasses waving in an autumn wind. The photographs in the exhibit are those of Michael Forsberg. Michael is a native Nebraskan whose eye for composition and catching the critical moment are becoming legendary. His wonderful image on the cover of this catalog is especially appropriate to the migration theme, as it depicts not only native plants but also a recent European immigrant species, Iris pseudacorus. The ink drawings and wooden sculptures are my own, which were chosen to try to supplement the photographs. Some of the sculptures are decoy-like creations that emulate the folk-art tradition in trying to catch the bare essence of a bird; others are more realistic depictions of living birds. There are also paintings by some of the best-known but now deceased nature artists of the past century, such as George Miksch Sutton, a Lincoln-born bird artist and ornithologist of national fame, and Wayne Willis, a Kansas wildlife artist of great talent. Sir Peter Scott, an internationally known British artist-environmentalist and one of the best painters of migratory waterfowl of the twentieth century, is also represented. Some contemporary Nebraska or regional artists such as Mark Marcuson of Lincoln and Thomas Mangelsen of Omaha, have been included. I hope that collectively this exhibit evokes both a sense of visual pleasure and a greater appreciation of the grandeur to be found in our living world. May these images transport you safely to places or scenes you have personally experienced, let you revisit some of your favorite Great Plains haunts, or even take you to more distant places so far known only in your imagination.

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