In 2017, the Winnipeg Art Gallery received a collection of 233 botanical illustrations by the Manitoba artist and naturalist Linda Fairfield Stechesen (1939-2017). This exhibition brings together a sampling of more than 50 of those illustrations, executed between the late 1970s and early 2000s along with 9 herbarium specimens on loan from the University of Manitoba Vascular Plant Herbarium.
Fairfield Stechesen’s artistic project, which she referred to as “The Garden,” are a testament to the Portage la Prairie-raised artist’s passion for and knowledge of the flora of this province. Every specimen she turned her eyes to receive equal attention and illustrative care. Fairfield Stechesen was methodical in her process, working carefully to accurately and aesthetically depict specimens from life. Moreover, the collection is a tribute to the diverse regions of Manitoba that Fairfield Stechesen pursued her passion of searching and recording the plant life of the province, from the Delta Marsh to Churchill.
Linda Fairfield Stechesen’s made a significant contribution to the world of botanical art in the illustrations she produced for Wildflowers of Churchill and the Hudson Bay Region (1987), a naturalist field guide by Dr. Karen Johnson. She was also deeply involved in Winnipeg’s artistic community, especially as an active member of Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art (MAWA), where she led a popular botanicals workshop in 2016.