The Illinois Natural History Survey currently has on display an exhibit entitled, "Nature Sketches by Gladys and Ruth Dudley," in the Forbes Natural History Building on the campus of the University of Illinois.
This exhibition, prepared by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, presents sketches and watercolors by Illinois natives Gladys and Ruth Dudley. Gladys (1906-1994) and Ruth (1910-1996) Dudley were two sisters who grew up in the small west-central Illinois town of Barry, about 35 miles southwest of Quincy, during the early 1900s. Early in life, they both developed a love of art and nature. They took correspondence courses from the Practical Drawing Publishing Company and eventually started a commercial art business, first in Barry and later in Quincy.
Among other projects, Gladys created wallpaper and textile designs. Ruth, more of a sculptor, created wax masters for molding figurines, toys, and Halloween masks. Both also sketched and painted from nature, especially plants. During the 1950s, they worked on a book on wildflowers: Gladys doing the painting and Ruth writing the text. The paintings for the book were eventually sold and are now lost, but the sisters, who never married, left behind notebooks filled with sketches and watercolors documenting the natural world around them.
The artwork will be on display through the Spring of 2010 at the Forbes Natural History Building, 1816 South Oak Street, Champaign, Illinois.