Fort Wayne & NE Indiana News

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ACRES Launches 200 Year Ecological Reflections Art & Science Project

ACRES Land Trust kicks off a 200-year Ecological Reflections art and science initiative with a celebration, 2 pm, Saturday, August 12 at Wing Haven, located at 180 W 400 N, Angola, IN 46703. Indiana’s oldest and largest local land trust will commission and share two centuries of work by artists and scientists investigating and reflecting on Wing Haven over time.

“It’s hard for most of us to visualize what forever means,” says Jason Kissel, executive director of the nonprofit. “This ‘short-term’ project of 200 years reinforces ACRES’ commitment to forever, gets people thinking about time differently, and demonstrates how ACRES views land-changes over two centuries.”

Ecological Reflections will document changes at ACRES’ Wing Haven preserve near Angola. The preserve, home to an artist’s studio, features a rich diversity of plants and animals in 3 major ecosystems: glacially carved kettle-hole lakes bordered by a wetland fen system, upland forests, and rolling grasslands/meadows.

“ACRES’ commitment to forever is reinforced through the ‘seasonality’ of coming back to the property,” says Kissel. “Nature is at Wing Haven every day, every season. We’re getting into the rhythm of this particular protected place by continuing this project for two centuries. It is a true ecological reflection on the land.”

To fund the initiative, the land trust has created an endowment that will generate interest to pay contributing artists and scientists. If the endowment reaches $1 million in support, it will fund a full-fledged artist-in-residence program with artists living and creating art at Wing Haven for 3 to 6 months, and robust ongoing scientific study on the property. With current funding, work will be commissioned annually.

For this inaugural year, ACRES commissioned artist Gwen Gutwein to create an oil painting of Wing Haven that will be unveiled at Saturday’s event. Humanities scholar Kevin McKelvey has written about the preserve and will be on hand to lead a writing workshop with event participants. Botanist Scott Namestnik of Orbis Environmental Consulting has conducted a plant inventory and will share his results Saturday. Manchester University and Purdue University are developing science protocols for the initiative.

“With robust investment, the project will grow to support the community’s vision for it and for land preservation,” says Heather Barth, director of fund development for the nonprofit. “ACRES’ Ecological Reflections initiative will inspire many generations to realize the value of protecting land for good.”

“When we talk about this project, business owners and community leaders pause to consider what longevity means, what this kind of planning looks like,” says Kissel. “What will happen from now until the year 2217? ACRES will be here, protecting land and documenting what this means from the land itself.”

ACRES Land Trust’s Ecological Reflections: How it will work

WHAT: A 200-year project compiling commissioned work by artists and scientists, an investigation into and reflection on how a particular place changes through time.

WHERE: ACRES Wing Haven preserve near Angola with an artist studio and rich diversity of plants, birds, mammals, and aquatic species in 3 major ecosystems: glacially carved kettle-hole lakes bordered by a wetland fen system; upland forests; rolling grasslands/meadows.

WHEN: 2017 – 2217

WHY: A short-term project of 200 years helps you and future generations visualize land in the scale of forever. Curating work in the arts and sciences from a specific place over two centuries will provide a wealth of content, inspiring people to see land and its protection in a new way.

HOW: ACRES is working with professionals to outline art commissioning guidelines and science protocols.

To fund the project, ACRES has placed seed money in an endowment and will use interest on this endowment to pay artists and scientists. The Lupke Foundation, Steuben County Community Foundation, Edward & Hildegarde Schaefer Foundation, Edward M. and Mary McCrea Wilson Foundation, and the Dr. Samuel D., and Martha B. and Mabel I. Sledd Foundation are supporting the project. This project is also made possible by the support of the Indiana Arts Commission, Arts United and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

ACRES’ goal is for the endowment to reach $1 million. At this level, the project will support a full-fledged artist in residence program with artists living and creating art at Wing Haven for 3 to 6 months, and robust ongoing science research on the property.



Saturday, August 12, 2 pm


180 W 400 N, Angola, IN 46703

Celebrate the kickoff of a 200-year study of Wing Haven through both art and science. Learn more about the Ecological Reflection initiative and how it will work, participate in a writing workshop led by commissioned Humanities scholar Kevin McKelvey; meet botanist Scott Namestnik with Orbis Environmental Consulting and learn about his recent plant inventory; and enjoy the musical musings of The Goat’s Beards — “a dynamic and ornery duo featuring fiddle, banjo and guitar.”

ACRES Land Trust members protect 6,797 acres of local natural places and working land in northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio and southern Michigan, forever. Explore more than 70 miles of trails, take photographs, enjoy family time, get outdoors, plan a field trip, get fit, reflect on nature’s beauty or share an adventure, for free from dawn to dusk at a preserve near you. Connect with ACRES Land Trust at 260-637-2273, or on Facebook at