Kevin Veara is fascinated with the density of life in the natural world. There is an elemental aspect to nature that recalls the primordial soup from which all life springs. Nature teems with abundance and beauty, but there is fierceness as well: eat or be eaten. Veara captures these intertwining images.
His paintings focus on birds and plants of the Sangamon River Valley, near Springfield, Illinois, that are found in the steep, forested banks and flood plains of the Sangamon River. His array of avian life, native and migratory, are often pictured as encircled by menacingly sharp-leaved plants that remind us of human complicity in climate change, habitat fragmentation, invasive species and genetic modification. He says, "I create omnivorous plants to represent the environment." His studio is surrounded by forest that is home to myriad species of birds, many of which he can see at feeders outside his studio windows. He says, "Out here in the country my observations of birds have solidified my ideas about natural time--a calendar based on the arrival and departure of birds, such as the Juncos that arrive in the fall from the arctic for the ‘warm winter’ and return to the arctic in the spring. This part of the Sangamon Valley is as far south as they oome. Birds use the area to breed. I have always had a great liking for birds. They are a barometer of the quality of the environment. Their populations rise and fall in response to the quality of the environment. Being here makes me more aware of my surroundings. This house puts me in the middle of it, this process."