Crayfish, shells and driftwood become beautiful in Mary Jo Daniels’ hands

Photo of a crayfish framed

It’s not often that you see a crayfish pictured in a work of art, let alone an actual crayfish shell.

Yet, Mary Jo Daniels makes it beautiful.

The Spirit Lake artist is a master at taking simple objects from nature and turning them into something creative and intriguing.

See her mixed media art on display July-September in the eARTh exhibit area at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji.

Daniels’ art features materials she has collected along beaches in the Iowa Great Lakes area, from driftwood and shells to rocks and crayfish.

“I put it together mostly in an abstract way,” Daniels said. “I love the look of it.”

Photo of natural elements art

She also has a sister who lives in North Carolina that sends Daniels natural elements from those beaches, including sea urchins, sand dollars and sea glass. Those extra items allow Daniels to expand her creativity even more.

An opening reception will be held in Daniels’ honor 5-7 p.m. Thursday, July 6, at the Dickinson County Nature Center. Appetizers and wine will be served, and Daniels will give an artist talk at 6 p.m.

“I’ve lived here all my, and I’ve lived other places — always come back — I just appreciate the beauty of the Lakes area and what it has to offer,” Daniels said. “I like to look for things that other people overlook.”

During her artist talk, she will discuss her creative process, how she views art differently from some other people, how her life has brought her to this point and the support she has received taking what began as a hobby into something more.

Daniels will also teach an art class 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, July 26, at the Dickinson County Nature Center. All ages are invited to pre-register, but youth must be accompanied by an adult. Students will use natural materials to create masterpieces on framed mats and will be able to paint rocks with magnets on them for homemade refrigerator décor. Daniels will also provide supplies for more pieces to be created at home.

The class fee will depend on the number of registrants. To pre-register, please call the nature center at 712-336-6352.

Through her exhibit and her class, Daniels hopes that people find a “new appreciation for what’s actually here in the Lakes area and our beaches, things that they may overlook, things that they might not believe wash up on our shores.”

For more information on Daniels’ exhibit, call 712-336-6352. You can also keep up with the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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