Former art instructor depicts changing seasons

By Jessica Kalin

Dorothea Bilder expresses thoughts of the changing seasons through her art while DeKalb County awaits fall.

Bilder, a former NIU art professor, is exhibiting Sight, Sound & Scent at the Ellwood House Visitor’s Center, 509 N. First St. until Oct. 17.

Her talk and slide presentation will usher in autumn at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, free of cost. The slide show gives her the opportunity to explain her work.

“You are giving of yourself and you want [the audience] to be just as excited,” Bilder said.

Through a series of abstract paintings and lithographs, Bilder reveals the changing of the seasons as she sees and feels it.

“I walk a lot and I was intrigued with changes in the seasons and the changes in vegetation,” Bilder said. “Each season has its own sights, sounds and smells.”

The Ellwood House holds one or two art shows a year. Gerald Brauer, executive director of the Ellwood House, said that since the art exhibit’s opening on Aug. 15, hundreds of people have visited.

To Bilder, each piece was a challenge.

“I painted [a canvas] three, four, or five times before I got it the way I wanted it,” Bilder said. The series took her nine months to complete.

Just as the seasons change, Bilder moved from one season to the next. Sometimes working on two paintings at once, Bilder spent about a month on each painting.

Brauer said these paintings are more figurative than her other works. Drawing from her travels, teachings and extensive readings, Bilder said she became more aware of how seasons are reflected.

“I decided I was going to do a series of paintings. The change of the seasons became more important to me,” she said.

The paintings are not the depictions of the seasons; instead they are specific to each season’s change in weather. Her painting ”February/March” illustrates unexpected changes those months can bring, such as a warm day in February followed by a snowstorm in March.

The show has been met with praise for Bilder’s works. “She impressed me because she is very articulate. She likes to talk about her work,” Brauer said.

Of the 26 pieces, 14 have been sold, including three at $1,100 each.

Some Dorothea Bilder accomplishments

Taught art from 1970 to 2003

Has had 23 art exhibits from 1990 to present

Invited to submit 10 prints for a book called “Forty Contemporary American Printmakers” 1996

Who’s Who in America Art 22nd Edition, 1997