Many photographers have found inspiration for their creative endeavors in a physical, geographical location. For Ansel Adams it was the Southwest, and Yosemite; Minor White in the subtle yet powerful dissections of nature; Laura Gilpin also found her greatest challenges and accomplishments in photographing the Southwest. I have found this place in Allerton Park.
It has a unique blend of architecture, sculpture and nature, lovingly cared for by volunteers and a handful of staff. It was originally owned by Robert Allerton (1873-1964), a wealthy Chicagoan. Allerton gave the land, the mansions and the gardens their uncommon flavor. He was interested in fine art and studied art history abroad, which expanded his appreciation of all forms of art. In 1946 Allerton donated the 1,517 acre site to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana to be used as a conservation area devoted to education, recreation and research.
The park is mostly volunteer run, by people who also have grown to love its quiet places. It offers people a respite from daily life, from noise and pollution, and continues to be a tradition among families for picnics, nature hikes, dog walks and other outings.
I work on the Allerton Park project with all of these things in mind. I go seeking solace and leave refreshed, my creativity rejuvenated. I share the secrets of the park with those who care to look and are able to see the magic that can happen in a place that is well loved over time.