5 things you need to know about UAB’s monarch butterfly art exhibition now through Dec. 15

monarch art
Monarch art on hand-made paper by Woodlawn High School students. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Looking for a unique way to take a break? Head over to UAB’s Solar House and wander through the butterfly garden, then peruse monarch butterfly migration-inspired art created by local high school and college students. The exhibit is on from now through December 15. Keep reading for all the details.

The nuts + bolts of the monarch butterfly exhibition at UAB

monarch migration
Monarch Butterfly Migration. Design by Juniper Brower, photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

UAB’s “I_Butterfly” exhibition is part of a nationwide, free-form bicycle festival, started by artist Cory McAbee, called I-Butterfly, designed to promote monarch butterfly habitat restoration. The festival features three self-guided bike tours that follow monarch migration paths:

  • East Coast: Maine to Florida
  • Mid-America: Canada to Mexico
  • West Coast: Rockies to Pacific Ocean

Doug Barrett and Douglas Baulos are the two UAB professors who riffed off the festival concept and got BLOOM Studio graphic design students involved.

1. You’ll see butterflies IRL, including the majestic monarch

Monarch 5 things you need to know about UAB's monarch butterfly art exhibition now through Dec. 15
Monarch butterfly. Photo via Sarah Bright

In a past life, I spent a good bit of time volunteering at a butterfly garden, and I have to say, a butterfly garden is of the more fascinating places you can while away some hours. It’s fun to watch them basking in the sun, or drinking nectar from fruit and flowers, and sometimes you can even watch one emerge from its chrysalis.

2. You’ll see monarch-inspired artwork from three local high schools

  • headon 5 things you need to know about UAB's monarch butterfly art exhibition now through Dec. 15
  • corner 5 things you need to know about UAB's monarch butterfly art exhibition now through Dec. 15

Aren’t these just beautiful? Artwork via students, photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Students from these three local high schools participated in the project to help raise awareness around the unique migratory patterns of monarch butterflies and the importance of preserving the milkweed where they lay their eggs:

  • Hewitt-Trussville
  • Mortimer Jordan
  • Woodlawn

3. You’ll see monarch artwork from UAB’s graphic design students

  • mockup of monarch logo
  • lifecycle scaled 5 things you need to know about UAB's monarch butterfly art exhibition now through Dec. 15

Love seeing this study for the finished piece on the Monarch Butterfly Lifecycle by UAB student Jada Nguyen. Photos via Pat Byington for Bham Now

If you haven’t heard of BLOOM Studio, they are all about shining a light on ecological and social justice themes, according to Bambi Ingram, Sustainability Manager. The artwork above was produced as part of Professor Doug Barrett’s “Logo, Brand, Identity” Graphic Design class. The talented artist is Jada Nguyen.

4. Monarchs make a mighty migration every year

Every fall, these regal butterflies travel from Canada to Mexico and back the other way in the spring. One of the more fascinating things about their migration is that *no single butterfly makes the entire journey*, and yet somehow, as a species, they do this every single year.

Unfortunately, their numbers are dwindling, due to destruction of the one plant where they lay their eggs. Enter the I_Butterfly Festival as a way to get all of us to help.

5. Milkweed is as essential to monarchs as sunlight, air and water

monarch butterfly on milkweed

Monarch on milkweed. Photo via Rick&Brenda Beerhorst (CC BY 2.0)

According to Joe Hunt, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer working with UAB Sustainability, if you want to help the monarchs, plant milkweed. Yes, it has weed in the name, but it’s as much of a weed as a rose, a peony or a maple tree. It’s actually a non-invasive native plant that is literally the only place where monarchs lay their eggs.

So if you see them in your yard, don’t pull them up. And if you’d like to plant some, visit monarchwatch.org. They’ll send you milkweed to get you started, and before you know it, you may have baby monarchs flying around your yard.

Once those babies grow, they’ll fly away and pollinate loads of wildflowers across the continent.

Reserve your spot today and head to UAB’s Solar House to visit the butterfly garden and monarch-inspired art exhibit.

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Sharron Swain
Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference
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