Ilze Arajs
Statement: Ferns
Statement: Kelp
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About the artist


The close-up observation of sprouting and growing plants began in earliest childhood for Ilze Arajs. Her family lived near the greenhouses that her father managed, and there at eye level she could clearly see day-to-day changes in plant structures. In art school, she turned to greenhouses and gardens to make studies for prints and paintings.


Growing up between two cultures, Arajs discovered a personal resonance with the Latvian Dainas. From ancient times, these folksongs have used luminous plant imagery to touch inner gentleness and beauty, even as the singer or listener may face hardships. 


Arajs earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she then taught for twelve years as Visiting Artist and Assistant Professor. She also taught at the Evanston Art Center and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Whether working with textile collage, ink brushwork, or macro photography, Arajs continues to explore plant imagery to express the vitality of the human spirit.


“Emerge and Unfurl,” was a solo 2014 exhibit at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago. Other solo exhibits include the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Beverly Art Center, and the Noyes Cultural Art Center in Evanston. An upcoming solo exhibit of macro photography is scheduled for October and November 2017 at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods.


Ilze Arajs and husband Jon Frye have lived in Evanston since 1983.

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