Thursday, August 2, 2012

Visiting the Flint Hills

Riding the wake of the midwest heat wave, I road-tripped south last weekend with my family. Destination? Manhattan, Kansas, home of KSU's fighting Wildcats and the newly completed Flint Hills Discovery Center. Many of the illustrations from my Tallgrass Prairie ABC are featured in the exhibits.

The center opened in April and I was happy to finally see the place in person. I had a book signing and gave a kid's program, then it was time to take in the center. A wonderful introductory short film defies description (be prepared for all your senses to become aligned to the tallgrass). The following interpretive areas are neatly organized to explain the particulars of tallgrass prairie, biologically, culturally, and beyond. You can take in the historical impact of european settlers. You can discover how tallgrass species are ingenious at survival. A sobering section on global warming and a children's activity area balances it all out. There will be changing temporary exhibits, too, but the permanent material would keep a visitor busy for years.

And of my work there? I will say I loved seeing it so LARGE. I'm used to viewing my illos in inches, not feet. The reproduction was beautiful. Much care and attention to detail went into every inch of this place of learning.  Thank you to the Flint Hills Discovery Center staff, for generously hosting me last weekend, and to those who chose my illustrations to be part of it all.

In 2011, while I was still working on the mural artwork that now surrounds the interpretive area entrance, I watched the real-time outside construction camera installed there. It was winter and snow occasionally fell on the site. And then it was spring and a big blue Kansas sky was visible above the almost complete building. Now, where only an empty lot sat, a gorgeous structure of stone and glass stands, mimicing perfectly in spirit the tallgrass prairie of the Flint Hills.  Journey down if you can. And also make time to see the real deal; take a hike in the Konza Prairie, a close-by natural research area open to the public, and also, the Tallgrass Prairie Nat'l Preserve, which is about an hour from Manhattan. And maybe, when you go,  it won't be 109°!


Jennifer Black Reinhardt said...

This is so wonderful! I'm thrilled that the Flint Hills Discovery Center had the vision to choose such a talented artist to create this extraordinary space for their museum. It must have felt so rewarding to be surrounded by your beautiful creations!!!!! Brilliant! Beautiful! Love!!!!!

Julie Clay Illustration said...

Your illustrations work so well at that big size, they are wonderful. It must be fantastic to see, you should be thrilled to bits, well done!!:)

Anonymous said...

Hey Claudia! Wow!!! Your beautiful artwork in life-sized glory! Of course I have tears in my eyes right now, remembering all of your success over our lifetimes...starting with your award-winning fabulous pencil renditions of the Clark County Fair. Your Flint Hills work is obviously sweepstakes material. And that is no surprise.



Claudia said...

Hey all you three wonderful women! Thank you all for your comments this week. As I know for a fact that you all create wondrous things yourself, I take and cherish every one your words here.

(And Pivka- I recall a few blue ribbons in your Clark County Fair history as well. Not to mention, a healthy obsession with the chicken exhibits!)

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