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Megan Kissinger
Artist Megan Kissinger has always been close to nature. Perhaps it is her background in scientific illustration that helps her to present the beauty and the connectedness that she sees in every aspect of the natural universe, but it is her passion that drives her attempt to make viewers aware of how everything in the world is connected in some way. As she points out, ""Go off the path, see the Orb Weaver Spider catch breakfast in her web. Dig up a handful of muck from the ground and see a hundred creatures in the tiny real estate of your palm. Canoe into a cypress head and hear the pops and echoes of a million insects, fish and birds going about their daily work of finding—and being food. When I paint, I try to convey that feeling of Life and the paradox that it is, at once, large and small, fertile and barren, safe and dangerous." 

Like so many members of Artists For Conservation, Megan identifies one of the key functions of nature art is to raise awareness, to inspire, and to motivate viewers to appreciate and act to protect the natural world.

In her own words: “My work in the Everglades is prompting me to take the time to go back and fact-check a lot of things that I have assumed to be current. I'm realizing that when it comes to the environment, things are changing at such a fast pace that just listening to the television news only gives you a thin slice of what's happening to it. Habitats are under constant assault from development, invasive species, agriculture run-off, improper hydrologic design--the list goes on. We may be the first generation to have to admit that we broke the system and that it may never work correctly again. And if everything in nature is connected as my art tries to maintain, what does that say about my future—or, my children's future?" I hope in fifty or one hundred years that what's left of my art isn't an artifact of something long gone. The Calusa civilization flourished along the banks of the Caloosahatchee River--their namesake river. The only thing we have left of them is a few small works of art found in archaeological digs. You'll never meet a Calusa Indian today because they are all gone. We didn't care enough to do something when they started to disappear because of habitat loss and invasive species...namely us. I hope we don't fail in our attempts to restore and preserve what's left of the Everglades. There's only one place like this on Earth. If we break it, all the money and science in the world won't bring it back.” 

Kissinger grew up on Perdido Bay near Pensacola, Florida but has lived in the Everglades for 25 years. “I really love the sense of place we have here on the southwest coast. Especially if you visit some of the inland small towns like LaBelle and Alva that are east of Ft. Myers on the Caloosahatchee River. The people there go back a few generations and they can tell you things about the history and the environment you would never know if you didn't have those conversations.” She often paints scenes along the Caloosahatchee River near the Town of Alva because it’s overlooks a couple of oxbow islands. 

I’ve always loved these river islands because they are so much a part of Old Florida—they let you still see how the river looked when it was allowed to make its own decisions on where it wanted to go. The sabal palms and oak trees create such a wonderful contrast with each other. As an artist, painting that combination, you can't beat the shadow play that can happen at any time of the day. And the habitat on the oxbow islands seems to stay more stable without all the invasive non-native plants so they are also great places for rookeries and wildlife.” 

Her kinship with the river is the same with the entire ecosystem, and collectors of her paintings appreciate that her artist eyes see things differently than most. “The Everglades aren't grand and sweeping unless you take the time to get off the path. I used to laugh at the overlooks the Park Service built that take the tourists high above the sawgrass prairies. That's a five minute vista at best. Go off the path, see the Orb Weaver Spider catch breakfast in her web. Dig up a handful of muck from the ground and see a hundred creatures in the tiny real estate of your palm. Canoe into a cypress head and hear the pops and echos of a million insects, fish and birds going about their daily work of finding—and being food. When I paint, I try to convey that feeling of Life and the paradox that it is, at once, large and small, fertile and barren, safe and dangerous When I paint, I'm constantly trying to point out the ‘world in the grain of sand’ that William Blake celebrated.”



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"Shore Leave"
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