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Fresh Air, a Virtual Art Exhibition of Chicagoland Nature
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Artists from Project Onward announce the virtual opening of Fresh Air, a virtual exhibition featuring Chicagoland natural treasures, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods and sites within the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Fresh Air captures the human yearning for connection to the outside, after months of shelter-in-place in Illinois and around the country.

 Export to Your Calendar 6/24/2020 to 8/9/2020
When: Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Where: United States

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Fresh Air is a collaboration between Project Onward, Forest Preserves of Cook County, and Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods





“I enjoyed painting a natural landscape. The piece I made captures the serene peace of an early morning,” said participating artist Fernando Ramirez.


Prior to the spread of COVID-19, the artists of Project Onward, a nonprofit studio and gallery for professional artists with mental and developmental disabilities, visited Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods and the Trailside Museum of Natural History in Thatcher Woods to find inspiration in nature. This collaboration gave them an exciting opportunity to bask in the natural surroundings, learn about local wildlife, and experience close-up encounters with the animals on site. It was a memorable experience that fueled the creation of Fresh Air, a collection of artistic interpretations of Chicago’s habitats.


“The Forest Preserves of Cook County is excited to be partnering with Project Onward and the Brushwood Center on this exhibition inspired by our local forest preserves. We hope people take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to experience nature in their own homes and that the work of these talented artists serves as an inspiration to explore nature through art,” stated Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County.


Brushwood Center, host of the online exhibition, hopes that the artwork will encourage viewers to consider the importance of local nature for both human health and ecological health.


“Research shows that time outside is essential for human health, particularly in the midst of this pandemic. Visiting forest preserves and parks actually increases our immune system strength and emotional resilience, in addition to providing critical habitat for plants and wildlife,” says Catherine Game, Executive Director of Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods.


Fresh Air is on exhibit at through August 9, 2020. All of the artwork is for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Project Onward.


The featured artists from Project Onward include: Steven Albecher, Franklin Armstrong, Alfred Banks, Dijon Barrett, John Behnke, Cherylle Booker, Ken Bortman, Louis Demarco, William Douglas, Safiya Hameed, Jason Harris, David Hence, Adam Hines, David A. Holt, Michael Hopkins, Janno Juguilon, R.J. Juguilon, Coral Kappel, Blake Lenoir, Molly McGrath, Allen McNair, Jack Moore, Jacqueline Cousins Oliva, Fernando Ramirez, Luke Shemroske, Ryan Tepich, Ricky Willis, and Sereno Wilson.





About the Partners:


Project Onward

Project Onward is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit studio and gallery for professional artists with mental and developmental disabilities. Project Onward supports the professional development of artists with exceptional talents and challenges, ranging from autism to mental illness and provides these artists with workspace, materials, professional guidance, exhibition opportunities and access to markets to sell their work and advance their careers. Learn more at


Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods

Nestled in 565 acres of pristine woodland in the historic Ryerson home in Riverwoods, Illinois, Brushwood Center promotes the importance of nature for nurturing personal and community wellbeing, cultivating creativity, and inspiring learning. Brushwood Center offers world-class programming with nearly 200 artists each year to offer high quality nature-inspired art programs to improve the wellbeing of children, families, professionals, and veterans in our community.


Forest Preserves of Cook County

Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.


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Fresh Air is presented in collaboration with Forest Preserves of Cook County and Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods





1 "Sunset by the Stream" by Fernando Ramirez.