For several years, George Olson’s work has focused almost exclusively on the grasses and wildflowers of the North American Prairie. This interest in native plants evolved from his earlier landscape drawings and paintings. In addition to his role as an artist, Olson has been involved with prairie restorations in Henry and Lee counties in Illinois for more than twenty-five years, as well as other projects through membership in the Nature Conservancy.
Olson’s prairie plant studies have been shown widely in the United States and England, including in more than 30 one-person exhibitions. A 1990 exhibition at the British Museum (Natural History) was accompanied by a catalog featuring 32-color reproductions. In 1992, his work was selected for the Seventh International Exhibit of Botanical Art, prepared and circulated nationally by the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation in Pittsburgh. Olson’s prairie drawings are also included in the London-based Sherwood, collection, which has traveled in the USA, Scotland, Japan, Australia, South Africa and Brazil.
Professor Olson retired from the faculty of the College of Wooster (Ohio), where he taught from 1963 until 2000. At Wooster, he was granted six research leaves. The first half of a 1992-93 research leave was spent as artist-in-residence at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. During this residency, he produced a series of plant studies from Missouri and Illinois, which were exhibited at the garden’s Ridgway Center during November 1992. The second half of the year was spent in London, where Olson had a one-person exhibit at the Royal Horticultural Society.
Olson’s sixth research leave (1997-98) was devoted to drawing prairie plants in the Chicago area. Many of the drawings in this exhibition depict specimens from the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Dixon Prairie Restoration and from several other prairies in the Chicago area. Major exhibitions were held at the Chicago Botanic Garden (October 1998) and The College of Wooster (May/June 1999.) In November 1998, three Chicago subjects were included in a London invitational at the Tryon-Swann Gallery on Cork Street. Olson’s drawings have been included in many recent exhibitions: a one person show at Thomas Moser in Chicago (2006) and Augustana College (2008); exhibitions at the Center for the Book Arts and the Bell Museum in Minneapolis (2006); “Portraits of a Garden,” Brooklyn Botanic Garden (2008), the Horticulture Society of New York (2008 & 2009), and “Losing Paradise,” endangered plants of the US, originated by the Missouri Botanic Garden and traveling to the Chicago Botanical Garden, New York Botanical Garden, and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (2009-2010) Olson is a graduate of Augustana College and received his MFA from the University of Iowa. He is currently a resident of Woodhull, Illinois.
For more information on George Olson's work, including what we might have in stock, please email or call us at 1-877-439-6554.