My art for the past two years has focused on the prairie flowers of Illinois and the Midwest. I now turn to the insects that support this fragile ecosystem. The Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia) is a rare butterfly due to 99 % loss of our native tallgrass and has been placed on the endagered species list. My proposal for a 3 foot sculpture dedicated to this gorgeous creature has been accepted into the public art exhibition, The Magic Garden. I pick up the fiberglass form on Saturday and have just over two weeks to complete it. Eeek! The opening is the first week of May in Highland Park, IL. By placing such a sculpture in a highly trafficked area, I hope to heighten people’s awareness to both this butterfly and its interdependence on plant life, thus encouraging gardeners to consider planting a few prairie flowers and grasses that would attract it and many other butterflies.
To read more about the butterflies of the Midwest and what actions are being taken to restore their habitats, check out this article by Doug Taron, curator of biology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.