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Events and Learning Cohorts

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Let the Art Speak—Regarding the Land

April 15 @ 8:45 AM - 1:00 PM CDT

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Through the ages, artists of all types have been captivated by the beauty of the natural world. Consider Albrecht Dürer, who painted a nature study titled Great Piece of Turf (1503) featuring sweet-meadow grass and dandelions; a masterpiece, it hangs in the Albertina Museum in Vienna. You will likely find contemporary sculptor Andy Goldsworthy’s work outside a museum. A creator of ephemeral installations that include stones, leaves, sticks, snow, ice, and other natural materials, he calls his artistic process a “collaboration with nature.” In outdoor ampitheaters and concert halls, American composer Aaron Copland’s music plays, capturing the vastness of the American landscape—wide open prairies, Appalachian meadows, bird song. And through the written word, Mary Oliver’s poetry conjures the “wonder and pain” of nature and heralds our need to notice, and identify with, the world around us. Her poem, Wild Geese (2004) is a wonderful example of this.


The land has been and remains the subject of innumerable creative works. Though it suffers drought, fire, floods, and abuse, the earth is ringed with beauty, both subtle and fierce. The land invites observation, wonder, and acknowledgment—by artists and lovers of art together. Viewers, listeners, dancers, and readers share a deep appreciation of the land’s textured character. And artists bear witness to the land and its multi-faceted nature. Together they will find themselves in good company at this year’s Let the Art Speak conference, where the land—as subject and muse—will be front and center

Our presenters will be landscape painter Joel Sheesley and poet Krissy Kludt. Emily Wrocklage, Upper House Fellow and videographer, will facilitate a Liturgy for the Land. Art, poetry, lecture, conversation, and a participatory liturgy  will infuse our time with meaning. We hope you will join us for Let the Art Speak. Bring your artist friends and land-loving neighbors.


(Above painting: Joel Sheesley, 2021, Spring Brook, at Springbrook Prairie, oil on canvas)


Doors open for coffee and mingling  at 8:45 AM, followed by:

  • Plenary with Joel Sheesley 
  • Gleanings Activity
  • Plenary with Krissy Kludt
  • Lunch/Brunch  
  • “A Liturgy for the Land” with Emily Wrocklage

Joel Sheesley

Joel Sheesley, Emeritus Professor of Art at Wheaton College, is a painter whose current work focuses on the landscape. In 2014-15, in conjunction with the Wheaton Park District, he painted exclusively on-site in Wheaton’s Lincoln Marsh Natural Area. Now he collaborates with The Conservation Foundation to raise awareness of the environmental importance of the Fox River and the Fox Valley. He is currently painting Fox River landscapes from West Dundee down to Ottawa, IL, where the Fox River joins the Illinois River. Sheesley has been a recipient of an Illinois Artist’s Fellowship, has exhibited his work in Chicago galleries, had a solo exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, and is in numerous art collections. Sheesley is also the author of several books including A Fox River Testimony (Conservation Foundation, 2018). He lives with his wife Joan in Wheaton, IL. 

Krissy Kludt

Krissy Kludt writes about identity, the land, mystery, divine love, and the passage of time. Creator of Writing the Wild and Field Guides for the Way and author of A Good Way Through (2017), she guides retreats and workshops on writing, creativity, and spiritual practice. She works and plays in the East Bay outside of San Francisco, on the ancestral lands of the Ohlone and Miwok peoples, with her husband and two sons. 


Emily Wrocklage

Emily Wrocklage is a video producer with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and a Fellow with the Arts and Culture Track at Upper House. A native of Washington State, she studied Film and Media Studies at Yale University, where she also served as a campus minister for two years. She now makes her home in Madison, WI with her husband and small dog. 



April 15
8:45 AM - 1:00 PM CDT
Event Category:


Upper House
365 East Campus Mall, Suite 200
Madison, WI 53715 United States
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