artwork by Janet Austin and Emily Moorhead-Wallace
Sculptors Janet Austin and Emily Moorhead-Wallace independently make interactive artworks. In their personal lives, they build gardens that support the needs of indigenous pollinators, solitary bees, other insects, and birds. For this collaboration, they wanted to expand these interests focusing on the theme of humans supporting nature. They spent the summer of 2019 coordinating with the Ecology Center and studying local pollinators through attending Chicago Botanic Garden workshops and researching pollinator habitat plans through The Pollinator Partnership and the Xerces Society.
The main purpose of the project is to create an interactive sculpture that functions as a pollinator habitat and artwork, as well as engage the local community in supporting their neighborhood pollinators.
A tertiary goal is to engage future Ecology Center visitors and other community members who visit the artwork after pollinators have established homes within it. People using the North Shore Channel Trail that runs through the property will experience a living sculpture with an ecological function.
Streets Alive Evanston
During Streets Alive Emily and Janet invited community help finalizing their design. Streets Alive attendants were prompted to draw bug keepers and pollinator gardens. These drawings were integrated into artwork’s design.
We were inspired by a children’s drawing of a person with really long legs. From there we looked at Prairie style stained glass windows and simplified the drawing with front and back panels. The designs of eyes and feet on the front became flowers and leaves on the back.
We designed the sculpture to fit together with shelves holding the laser cut front and back panels. The shelves were plug welded into place, the welds were cleaned, and the roof/bonnet put in place with bolts so as to be removable. The piece was given a natural rust patina, instead of paint, to be more insect friendly.
In early March, the metal sculpture was installed on a poured concrete footing with the help of a crane. The piece is bolted into place and ready for the organic nesting materials.
Winter Camp & Community Build
In January and March of 2020, artists Janet Austin and Emily Moorhead-Wallace led pollinator nest building workshops. Community members drilled nesting blocks as well as cut and organized bundles of native plant material which were then stuffed into nesting boxes. Boxes and blocks were installed in the sculpture by workshop attendees.
All components are included in the final sculpture.
Artwork completed with nesting material in April 2020. Check back for updates on pollinators moving in!
Interested in learning more about native bees, check out this amazing pamphlet by the USDA Forest Service: Bee Basics
Build your own Native Bee Habitats: Nests For Native Bees