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This is artwork by Catherine Nelson, created for the Spring 2024 Senior Art Exhibition at St. Norbert College.

Semester Completed

Spring 2024


De Pere


painting, oil painting, ecology, home, Florence, Wisconsi


Art and Design | Environmental Sciences | Painting

Artist Statement

This image weaves together the people, plants, and places that feel like home into a dynamic network of life and growth. Home, for me, is found in multiple locations, including my childhood home, my apartment in Florence, my college campus, and a research station deep in the Wisconsin Northwoods. Though these places aren’t physically connected, they aren’t separate. Just as biomes are small, interrelated regions within a larger planet, each person, plant, and space I have called home is an important segment of a global community.

The first home that comes to mind is the Midwest suburb where I grew up, where cornfields are always close by and trains rumble past as I fall asleep. I’ve spent countless afternoons at my friends’ favorite mediocre coffee shop, cherished because of the many memories we’ve made there. I’ve gone on long hikes, searching for birds in wildflower savannahs, before returning home to shuck corn with my siblings. I’ve grown in this home, along with the prairie plants, and there will always be a space there for me.

I then moved to my college campus, where I spent long moments on the bridge across the Fox River, watching pelicans soar. I’ve logged many late-night study sessions in the library, following fun afternoons in museums or rock climbing. I treasure the sunny afternoons I spent on field trips to local lakes, collecting zooplankton and sediment samples, and the opportunity to see those same samples from a microscopic perspective.

During a semester studying abroad, I lived in Florence’s city center, building new friendships among ancient architecture. I frequented grocery stands at the open-air market, and took home produce to make meals with my roommates. I also found a sense of comfort in the city’s iconic Catholic churches, which are saturated with symbol and spirit, and offer both shelter and challenge. They’re a space for reflection and rejoicing, and have been a great home to me, no matter where I am in the world.

I am deeply connected to Wisconsin’s Northwoods, with its towering red pines, spongy, verdant bogs, and close-knit community of dedicated researchers. During a summer working there, I spent my days sketching pond lilies and red pines and learning the scientific names for aquatic plants. Evenings were spent with friends, sharing deep conversation in a two-room cabin, or searching the skies for stars. I lived in close community with the plants, the people, and the place, experiencing what it is to know and be known.

These are just four locations, but they’re home to countless interactions and experiences–and small parts of a world filled with many more. Each memory I’ve made in these places, and each individual place, person, and plant, is a gleaming facet of a large, glorious macrocosm.


Catherine Nelson 2024

Catherine Nelson, Senior Art Exhibition Portfolio, Macrocosm