You may have noticed by now if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook that I've been cryptically posting images of works in progress involving knitted leaves, hundreds of knitted petals, and stalks, under the hashtag #missingpieces2016. I'm excited to finally tell you a little about this project that I've embarked upon and will be sharing more about over the coming year. As a self proclaimed nature enthusiast, I've always been interested in natural observation, which has contributed to the detail in my previous work. In addition to this interest, throughout my coursework and professional experience in the field of forestry I have developed a fascination with interconnectedness-- the phenomenon of a niche and how it is impacted by changes in the surrounding ecosystem. Even the smallest shifts in an ecosystem's makeup can influence the future of that setting, even though it may be undetectable to us.
This past year I did some reading about the monarch butterfly and the reports of reduced numbers of the species throughout its native range. Researchers believe that this is due largely in part to habitat loss in overwintering sites through issues such as deforestation, and climatic factors. Another major aspect of this decline is the scarceness of milkweed plants, namely those in the Asclepias genus. Increased use of herbicides and other agricultural/roadside management have impacted the size of the milkweed population that is present across the region that monarchs migrate through. Monarchs use these plants as a nectar source, but they also rely on them to raise the next generation that will continue the migration. The effect of these missing pieces trickle down to impact the livelihood of one of the most well known insects in North America. If you're interested in reading more about this topic or want to know how you can help, check out the Monarch Joint Venture.
Missing Pieces is a study on cause and effect in nature, through fiber sculptures of plants from the Asclepias genus. This next year, I will be knitting flower heads and entire plants of species that are native to my region for a solo exhibition at The Project Box in the Paseo District of Oklahoma City in August 2016. Knitted botanical sculptures will place these plants underneath a microscope, exploring their unique features and vast responsibility in the entomological world.
I'm very grateful and excited to have been awarded a Creative Projects Grant by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition for this undertaking, and am excited to share the process in this space as it develops.
"Tuberosa", the first sculpture for Missing Pieces, inspired by butterfly milkweed.