Laurel DeFreece can’t imagine making art that doesn’t include nature. Her inspiration comes from the prairie biome that surrounds her rural home in Plattsburg, Missouri. Her work captures how beautiful as well as fragile nature and our planet are, yet how strong even a piece of paper can be. Trained as a graphic designer in the 1980's, she attended Missouri Western State College with an emphasis in printmaking, painting and photography. She continued her education in papermaking and encaustic, educated at Arrowmont School of Arts and Studio Joy. Her most recent body of work Natural Elements heads into a bold new direction using native grasses, fiber, sticks, and other found objects. With these materials Laurel makes natural handmade paper for prints, collages, and 3-D structures, which include encaustic. Natural Elements was the subject of Laurel’s 2019 solo exhibition at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph, Missouri.