Submit a story for Monarch Migrations

Do you have a Migration story you would like to share?

You are invited to join a growing community of stories inscribed onto unique sheets of paper made from Milkweed plants, the Monarch Butterfly’s host plant for its caterpillars. All migration stories will be folded into an origami butterfly and suspended over a large scale map of the Monarch Butterfly’s epic journey to and from North America and Mexico each year. All will be part of a future installation focusing on the Monarch’s annual migration across the Mexican border as a symbol for breaking down the barriers to migrants who seek safety from the effects of climate change, political unrest and violence in their home countries.

Click here to submit your story below

Inspired by Rachel Carson’s book "Silent Spring"

Nature in Absentia: Monarch Migrations

focuses on producing a creative platform for community members to learn more about the surrounding natural environment, while regenerating milkweed/mugwort plants into a handmade paper immersive installation that highlights bio and cultural diversity through the collection of migration stories.

“Nature in Absentia” is an over arching framework for a series of multi-media installations illustrating how the loss of natural biodiversity in New York is in stark contrast to the City’s ever expanding cultural and racial diversity. The goal of this project focuses on illuminating community members about how the surrounding natural environment has been irrevocably altered by the human byproducts of pollution, globalization and climate change through the process of making natural handmade paper. The project consists of a series of free community paper making and tea sharing workshops in collaboration with Tea Arts & Culture introducing a wide range of ages to the process of re-generating locally foraged plants into handmade sheets of paper, which will eventually become part of an immersive installation titled “Monarch Migrations.” The installation will focus on comparing the life cycles and migratory patterns of Monarch butterflies with the migrations of humans, goods and services with the plants that support the life cycles of these butterflies. It will consist of hundreds of origami butterflies and incubating milkweed plants suspended over a large scale projection map of their annual migrations between North and Central America as a symbol for current events at the US/Mexico border. This map will include an overlay of video projections and audio recordings depicting mass migrations by humans, plants and animals throughout the world due to globalization and the climate crisis; such as seeds and insects accidentally coming across oceans on container ships, to migrants trying to cross the border from Mexico. These images will be juxtaposed with footage of migratory monarch butterflies hibernating in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico, where their ancient habitat of the oyamel fir forests have been whittled away by clearcutting for agricultural development.

Community members are invited to be a part of this project by regenerating the Monarch caterpillars’ main food source of milkweed collected from highway medians into handmade papers folded into origami butterflies. The process of making the milkweed into paper pulp entails demonstrating how to peel, boil and break down the bast fibers of the stalks for casting individual sheets of paper with a screened-in framing mold. The handmade paper sheets produced from one community will be used by the next to write stories, poems and drawings inspired by the theme of Migration.

The emphasis of this project is that Milkweed (Asclepius syriaca) a plant native to North American and The Bronx is in jeopardy of being pushed out by the more aggressively spreading species of Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris). A medicinal plant originally from Asia. When there is a loss in the milkweed population this adversely diminishes the population of Monarchs and their caterpillars. Butterflies are considered a bellwether for change, and after being placed on the endangered species list this year, the Monarchs' dwindling population does not bode well for the health of our planet.

Share Your Story With Us!

To share a story about migration or movement in your life from one place to another, please feel free

to type, in your choice of language, in the Reply section below. If you are okay with others reading your story, please feel free sign your permission in the reply section to have your story printed. All stories will be kept private and hidden away in the folds of the origami butterflies unless otherwise given permission to share in a final book.

    This project is supported by a New Work Grant from The Bronx Council on the Arts and through the Urban Field Station Collaborative Arts Program Residency with the USDA Forest Service, NYC Parks Department and Nature of Cities.  Paper making and Tea Workshops have been developed in collaboration with Tea Arts & Culture.