2021 TPE Online Conference Arts Program

For most of us, our enthusiasm about prairies and savannas goes beyond scientific and practical concerns. Our many gifted artists and craftspeople of all kinds help us to connect with and express these deeper feelings. We are very pleased to offer some new ways at this year's conference to honor and appreciate the artists in our community and learn to be better artists ourselves.

Hands-On Arts Workshops

We are pleased to offer two special arts workshops on the afternoon of Friday, February 26:

Drawing Nature is a virtual art class celebrating nature! You'll sharpen your observation skills and learn how building art into your life can be a relaxing way to connect with nature. This class will teach you tips for drawing quickly while becoming more accurate. Bring paper, a pencil, and some dried prairie plants to draw along with us! We'll start with thumbnail sketches and drawing basic shapes, then move on to checking proportions, adding texture, and making our sketches look 3D. The majority of our time will be spent drawing prairie plants, but there will be time at the end for sketching birds and mammals. This webinar-style class is great for beginners or artists that don't often draw plants.

Taught by Carolyn Byers, ecologist, nature-educator, bird nerd, and prairie lover (her day job is Director of Education for Madison Audubon). You can find out more about Carolyn, her artwork, and other classes she offers here  

Seeing Like Your Camera will help you discover how your camera’s brain works, how to bend it to your will, and how to use various natural lighting conditions to create attractive images. "Why does that animal look like a tiny speck in my photo? Why doesn’t the sunrise on my phone’s screen look like the one I was looking at when I took the picture?" The answer: your camera sees the world differently than you do. Learning about those differences and how to take advantage of them (rather than be frustrated by them) is the key to making good photographs. Whether you’re using a phone or a digital SLR, join this interactive class and take better photos - for conservation and for yourself.

Taught by Chris Helzer, who is also our science session keynote speaker. Chris is Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska and also works to raise awareness about the value of prairies and prairie conservation through his Prairie Ecologist blog, presentations, and photography. Learn more about his books, The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States and Hidden Prairie: Photographing Life in One Square Meter here.


Prairie Arts Fair

We invite all artists and craftspeople with prairie-themed work, in media from oil painting to buckthorn carving, to exhibit and even sell their pieces at our new virtual arts fair. Each artist's "virtual booth" will feature images of their work, links to their personal website, and an opportunity to connect directly with attendees on the conference platform. The exhibitor fee is $95, which includes the cost of one conference registration. Each artist will directly handle their own sales transactions. These virtual exhibit booths will be open to conference attendees for 6 months after the event. Click here to register to show at this year's conference arts fair. Questions? Contact Grace Vosen at [email protected].

Prairie seed necklace by Ron Endres

Photo Contest

All of the great photographers in the TPE community are invited to submit their entries for the annual Photo Contest. This year we have identified five themes - seasons, landscapes, people, flora/fauna, and wabi-sabi (transience and imperfection). Photographers may submit a maximum of one photograph for each theme. The overall winning photograph will be featured on the cover of the 2020 TPE Annual Report. Send a high-resolution JPG file of your photo to Jerry Newman at [email protected] to enter. Entries are due by February 1, 2021.

Winning 2020 contest photo: "Beauty of the Burn" by Sue Steinmann

Haiku Contest

Everyone is encouraged to try their hand at poetry during the conference in the Haiku Contest. All submitted haiku must fit the form and have a prairie or nature theme. Learn more about haiku and how to compose them here. The winner will be determined by Joe Rising, originator of this popular conference event.

Click here to register for the conference!