Quantcast
Animals
Lorenz's moths featured in downtown Brooklyn, commissioned by BRIC for the New York City Department of Transportation Street Seats Program. Hilary Lorenz

Brooklyn Printmaker Hilary Lorenz Celebrates an Overlooked Pollinator: the Moth

By Patrick Rogers

The winged insects of artist Hilary Lorenz's Moth Migration Project come from Lithuania, Turkey, Bermuda and across the U.S. Made of ink and paper and hand-cut in a variety of shapes and sizes, they aren't real moths and they aren't, strictly speaking, the artist's: Early last year, Lorenz, a printmaker and professor of art and media arts at Long Island University in Brooklyn, put out a call on social media for people everywhere to make prints of the moths that live in their locales and to send their creations to her.


The response was overwhelming. Inspired by the request, schoolchildren in New Zealand sent boxes of paper moths, and a museum in England held moth printmaking workshops and shipped the results to Lorenz's Brooklyn studio. Hand-blocked prints inspired by aboriginal traditions arrived from Australia, and STEM students in Arizona replicated moths native to the American West.

Installation of the Moth Migration Project at 516 Arts in Albuquerque, New Mexico.Hilary Lorenz

By the time Lorenz's Moth Migration Project debuted at 516 Arts in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last August, she had received more than 10,000 submissions. Arranged in thick skeins on the walls and ceiling of the gallery, the streams of paper moths join together in swollen columns, then break apart before trailing off against the white background. Lorenz imbued the static installation with a sense of living, welcoming motion. "There were so many moths, I worried people would feel swarmed," she said. "Instead, they're just sweeping the viewer along in a very gentle way, as if you're being carried through the night."

Commissioned by the Albuquerque gallery for Cross Pollination, a 2017 group exhibition focusing on the Earth's endangered pollinators, Lorenz's crowd-sourced moths evoke both the beauty and the vital function of the insect. Like bees and butterflies, moths play an essential role in the process of fertilization for a vast number of plants, and yet their numbers are dwindling globally as a result of loss of habitat and food sources, especially along their migratory routes. (They also, for the record, have a nasty reputation that's overblown, since the larvae of just a tiny number of the estimated 160,000 species of moth feed on the fibers in clothing and other fabric.)

Lorenz, whose art projects in the past have been inspired by the natural scenery of the Hudson Valley and the birds of Brooklyn, was drawn to moths by the visual potential presented by their nocturnal flight. She was also intrigued by a fascinating fact she once heard. "A ranger in one of the western parks told me that a grizzly bear waking up from hibernation can eat 40,000 of them" in 24 hours, she said. Nevertheless, she was unprepared for the pride and attention that project participants poured into their printed creations. "People make just breathtakingly beautiful moths," she said.

Behind the scenes, the Moth Migration Project—which travels to Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre in St. Andrews, Canada, this fall and to Bundaberg Regional Galleries in Queensland, Australia, in 2019—has fostered a network that continues to grow. With every moth she receives, Lorenz posts a photo of it on the project's website, plots the source on an interactive map, and sends certificates of participation to every printmaker.

Entomologists and educators have adopted the project as a means of spreading the word about the moths' shrinking numbers. "People are using it as a way of honoring the moths of their particular location, and they are using it to teach the importance of moths as pollinators and how they affect the environment," said Lorenz. At last count, there were 15,000 moths in the database and Lorenz is currently photographing each new entry.

As the project has grown, Lorenz said she has been gratified to see it take on a life of its own, a dynamic that, in a sense, mimics the moth's crucial role as a communicator between species. As one participant, Joyce Stewart of Dripping Springs, Texas, wrote, "In a world of divisiveness, it was humbling to be a small part of a project that had the potential to create a spirit larger than any single community."

Said Lorenz, "People are incredibly hungry for connection, maybe because of the state of the world right now. I feel humble saying this, but people have thanked me for starting the project by saying, 'You are the light, and we are the moths.' It's an incredible compliment."

To learn more about Hilary Lorenz's Moth Migration Project, click here.

Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
Malte Mueller / Getty Images

When Profit Drives Us, Community Suffers

By David Korten

As I was reading the current series of YES! articles on the mental health crisis, I received an email from Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at University of Notre Dame. She was sending me articles being prepared for an anthology she is co-editing with the working title Sustainable Vision.The articles present lessons from indigenous culture that underscore why community is the solution to so much of what currently ails humanity.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The Revelator

Interactive Map: Air Pollution in 2100

By Dipika Kadaba

Having a little trouble breathing lately? That's no surprise. Air pollution is already bad in many parts of the country, and climate change is only going to make it worse. Even though many industries are reducing their emissions, a warming climate could actually offset these reductions by intensifying the rates of chemical reactions and accumulation of pollutants in the environment.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
ddukang / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for You? A Doctor Weighs In

By Gabriel Neal

When my brother and I were kids back in the '80s, we loved going to Long John Silver's.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals

Dumpster Debacle Distracts From Serious Spike in Whale Deaths

This week, a video of a failed attempt to put a dead, 4,000-pound whale into a tiny dumpster made the rounds on the internet, garnering chuckles and comparisons to Peter Griffin forklifting and impaling a beached sperm whale on Family Guy.

The juvenile minke whale washed up on Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire on Monday morning, NBC 10 Boston reported. It was found with entanglement wounds, so researchers with the Seacoast Science Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted to move the carcass from the beach to a lab for a necropsy to study its death.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Adventure
Muir Woods, which costs $10 for entry, will have free entry on Sept. 22. m01229 / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Visit Any National Park for Free This Saturday to Celebrate 25th National Public Lands Day

If you're stuck for plans this weekend, we suggest escaping your city or town for the great outdoors.

This Saturday marks the 25th National Public Lands Day, organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
A glacier flows towards East Antarctica. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

Temperatures Possible This Century Could Melt Parts of East Antarctic Ice Sheet, Raise Sea Levels 10+ Feet

A section of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that contains three to four meters (approximately 10 to 13 feet) of potential sea level rise could melt if temperatures rise to just two degrees above pre-industrial levels, a study published in Nature Wednesday found.

Researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Queensland, and other institutions in New Zealand, Japan and Spain looked at marine sediments to assess the behavior of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin during warmer periods of the Pleistocene and found evidence of melting when temperatures in Antarctica were at least two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for periods of 2,500 years or more.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Oil well in North Dakota. Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pipeline Leaks 63,840 Gallons of Produced Water in North Dakota

A pipeline released 63,840 gallons (1,520 barrels) of produced water that contaminated rangeland in Dunn County, North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune reported, citing officials with the North Dakota Department of Health.

Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, and can contain drilling chemicals if fracking was used.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights
Residents stand in a long queue to fill water containers on May 27 in Shimla, India. Deepak Sansta / Hindustan Times / Getty Images

World Peace Requires Access to Safe Water

International Peace Day is Sept. 21. Mekela Panditharatne, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, submitted the following op-ed to EcoWatch in commemoration.

In drought-ravaged East Africa, the cracks in the plains echo the fault lines splitting tribes.

Across the globe, the devastation of deadly brawls is being exacerbated by tensions over access to water. Water crises, often worsened by governance failures, can portend warning signs for instability and conflict. This year, the World Resources Institute cautioned that water stress is growing globally, "with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040." The effects of such water stress span the gamut from civil unrest to open warfare.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!