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Dear Joan, Marcia and Sci-Arters:

Yes, the concrete is crumbling at UIC.  Fortunately that inspired the
removal of the concrete overhang that ran throught the main campus.  It
looks better as of the last time I looked, more open and they've planted
more trees and flowers. This was very bold, as they changed the architect's
vision of the campus.  A little like touching up the corners of a great
piece of art but in this case a blessing.  If you want nice visuals in
Chicago the lakefront is wonderful and not far from UIC, and then there's
the Art Institute itself, just down the road.

Though I never took art courses at UIC I did manage to find botanical
illustration in the area through Morton Arboretum, Peach Simmons used to
teach it.  She is probably the person who most influenced me to join GNSI.
I also took drawing through the community arts program at the Art Institute
of Chicago, which usually allowed me to do semi-independent study within
botanical illustration within the framework of the classes.  Olivia
Petrides, who illustrated one of the Peterson Field Guides taught drawing
and painting there, though she did not identify as an illustrator.  She may
well still be there.  She was supportive, once she realized that I cared
about the artistry as well as the use, and a wonderful teacher.  Both of
these programs offer exceptional chances to learn at reasonable cost from
great teachers, artists and illustrators.  Graduate work at the Art
Institute is very expensive and the administration was not supportive of
any kind of illustration work.  That's probably still true.  The old artist
vs. illustrator prejudice.  Access to the teachers through the community
arts program is therefore precious in more than one way.  Of course it
would be hard to find time to do these things on top of graduate work, but
if one does not already have this training the summer is a great time to
take traditional art classes in Chicago. Anyway you do have outside options
if you go to Chicago.  You may even be able to arrange some traditional
course work for credit at UIC throught the Art Institute, but tuition will
be much higher.  I had a different purpose in mind though, I wanted (want)
to become a botanist and use illustration as a tool.

                                                        Miriam