One hundred thirty is the number of butterfly species that have been documented in the region where the Cascade and Siskiyou mountain ranges converge. And one hundred eighteen butterflies have been recorded within the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument boundaries.
The first butterfly diversity poster I created includes 41 of the butterflies found in the Cascade Siskiyou region. That leaves another two-thirds of this area’s butterflies waiting to appear on posters! Thus, I am making a second poster with another forty butterflies. Local lepidopterists Linda Kappan and John Villella are generously sharing their photographs and expertise for this new project.
Here is the story behind the first butterfly poster:
Three summers ago I was on a hike in the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument sponsored by Soda Mountain Wilderness Council and led by John Villella. Towards the end of the hike I asked John the same question I had asked several other leaders of hikes that summer. I said to him, “I am an artist-activist. I have created lots of work in the past promoting peace and opposing war and torture. I would now like to make some artwork that promotes the preservation of this region’s amazingly biodiversity. Do you have any suggestions?”
John appeared very excited and said, “I have been waiting years for someone to ask me that question! You need to make a painting of my butterflies so we can make it into a poster and get the word out about the abundance of butterflies in this region!”
So John and I looked into grants to fund the project. After several months passed we had not found grant funding. But the combination of saving up enough money and being offered a long-term house-sitting position during that next winter allowed me to dedicate three months of full-time work to making a huge painting including forty-one butterflies!
Throughout that winter, as I was working on the 4’ x 8’ painting, friends suggested several organizations who might be interested in sponsoring the project. I contacted those organizations and received enough funds from them to pay for the graphic designing and printing of the poster.
In the summer of 2017 I began selling the poster at the Lithia Artisans Market. About mid-way into the summer I learned that the people coming through the market are much more interested in buying the poster after they hear the story behind it. I start out the conversations with bypassers in this way: “Did you know that this Cascade Siskiyou region is home to one hundred thirty different butterfly species? Furthermore, this region is tied with the Appalachian region for having the most butterfly diversity in North America!” Ninety percent of people are stunned to hear this information, including the people who have lived in this area for several decades.
Thousands of people who now have the posters in their homes are learning their butterflies!
I regularly offer the posters for free to teachers or people to can deliver the posters to teachers. If you know of a teacher who can use any of my biodiversity posters in his or her classroom, please put them in touch with me or come get some posters and deliver them yourself!