Prudence Gill grew up in a cottage on the Matheson coconut plantation when Key Biscayne still had swampland.
Gill, an artist and curator, would play in the swamp next to her house, a place she said was wild and mysterious.
“Growing up there formed my relationship with the environment and nature,” she said. “The swamp was the place that held the most mystery. I learned to be unafraid of entering into mysteries.”
Gill’s experiences with nature inspired her recent art exhibit, “Ghosting Nature,” which will be up at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center in Crandon Park until Feb. 21.
The exhibit features a piece titled “Ghost Swamp,” a tribute to her beloved wild place. Gill used part of a coconut tree as the base for the piece. She recreated the landscape of the swamp — coconut palms, silver buttonwood, spiky plants and tree stumps — using clay.
Sandra St. Hilaire, program coordinator for the Biscayne Nature Center, said she walks into the exhibit room every day to look at Gill’s pieces, especially the ghost swamp.
“I think it’s magical,” St. Hilaire said. “It’s hauntingly beautiful. You can imagine yourself in that environment.”
The exhibit also features monoprints on vellum from photos taken of water reflections on Biscayne Bay, Whitewater Bay and off Key Biscayne.
Gill has collected shells and other specimens from a young age. She used some of those specimens to create ceramic sculptures of shells, brain coral, three finger leaf algae and sea biscuits, which line the walls of the exhibit room.
Cesar Trasobares, a coordinator for Key Biscayne’s Art in Public Places program, said Gill’s work is a translation of the forms seen in nature.
“The ceramic pieces are beautiful and poetic in their own right, but also as statements from an artist in support of conservation of the environment and respect for nature,” Trasobares said.
A large map of the Everglades is also mounted on one of the walls. Last October, Gill participated in the Artists in Residence in Everglades program. She stayed in an apartment in the Everglades for a month and worked on her art. She mapped her journey using markers, paint swatches, acrylic paint and glue.
Gill said she was in her own heaven in the “vastness and stillness” of the Everglades. She said she has strong memories of the Everglades from when she was younger and that she wanted to immerse herself in that environment again.
“When you make your work, it speaks of your heart,” Gill said. “I hope that feeling comes through.”
If you go
▪ ‘Ghosting Nature’ by Prudence Gill will be on display in Crandon Park until Feb. 21.
▪ What: Closing reception for the exhibit.
▪ Where: Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, 6767 Crandon Blvd.
▪ When: Saturday, Feb. 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
▪ Cost: $7 county parking fee.
▪ For more information: Visit www.biscaynenaturecenter.org or call 305-361-6767 ext. 119.