This past year I have been outside in my garden and in my studio working on a fascinating letterpress project. In 2016, I was awarded the Don and Virginia Eckelberry Fellowship from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia. With this endowment, I researched the life cycle and migration patterns of monarch butterflies in North America. This project allowed me to combine my great interest in native plants and backyard ecology with my passion for printmaking.
Monarchs rely on their host plant milkweed (Asclepias spp.) in a number of critical ways. It is the only source of food for monarch caterpillars, and the only plant upon which adult butterflies lay their eggs. In early spring of this year I planted large swaths of milkweed in my garden, and observed the various stages of the life of a monarch - from egg to adulthood.
In addition to my outdoor gardens, I placed potted milkweed in a screened porch to observe fully grown caterpillars transforming into chrysalises. Here is a video I captured of an adult butterfly emerging from it's chrysalis, as well as a number of photos I took of the weeks long process.
I would like to thank the Eckelberry Endowment Committee and the Academy of Natural Sciences for this great opportunity. I would also like to give special thanks to Robert Peck, Curator of Art and Artifacts and Senior Fellow at the Academy and my supervisor on this project.