Terry Evans | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Terry Evans 

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Terry Evans, who's spent years photographing prairies, writes that she's always fancied herself an explorer and so lately she's been "exploring the vast collections in the storage areas of Chicago's Field Museum." The museum's exhibit "From Prairie to Field: Photographs by Terry Evans" includes 44 photos of the collections' snakes, birds, mammals, insects, and plants. John James Audubon's birds were painted from creatures he'd killed; Evans's photos are more honest, in that it's clear her subjects are preserved specimens. The insects in Dragonflies are in three boxes containing one, two, and three individuals, an arrangement that suggests the systematic nature of collecting. Most of the insects have a variety of transparent brown markings on their wings, something one couldn't easily see in a living dragonfly. They're not eye-catchingly pretty, but quite beautiful in their way. Similarly, the colors of the pressed plant in Sunflower, kept so many years in storage, are still vivid, and the detail is still radiant, in part because the flower is so flat. The exhibit gives expression to a fundamental paradox in the natural sciences: studying and categorizing something can rob it of life, yet the revelations of that study deepen one's love for it. Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., through January 5. Hours are 9 to 5 daily; 312-922-9410.

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