“Monarch + Milkweed” at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts

Notice the petals are made from a saw blade!

The mission of Science Art Wonder (an Emory and Georgia Tech partnership) is to “partner scientists and artists together to create visual art to teach others about on-going research in Atlanta.”

Dr. Jaap de Roode, Raymondo, and I have collaborated on “Monarch + Milkweed” to interpret de Roode’s research on how monarch butterflies self-medicate to protect their offspring from an epidemic, deadly parasite.

According to Dr. de Roode’s website, “The de Roode Lab team has made a fascinating discovery: that female butterflies infected by this parasite choose to lay their eggs on a specific variety of milkweed that helps their offspring avoid getting sick. De Roode hopes that this insight could lead to new approaches in medications for human beings in the future.”

Our giant steel milkweeds host monarchs in their life-cycle phases from egg; caterpillar; chrysalis; to butterfly. The purple flowers represent swamp milkweed, the normal host plant for Monarch eggs, and the orange flowers are Tropical Milkweed with which the butterflies self-medicate. Much of the steel was harvested from the old railroad tracks that have become the Atlanta Beltline.

Dr. de Roode has a fascinating TED talk on his research: www.ted.com/talks/jaap_de_roode_how_butterflies_self_medicate.

Meet the Team

Jaap de Roode

Dr. Jaap de Roode is Associate Professor of Biology at Emory University.

Raymondo is an artist and arts educator who currently teaches “Design with LEGOS” for the Decatur City Schools Enrichment program. He is known for his metal sculpture and installations. His (donated) line drawings of Shakespeare, a Beatnik, and Frankenstein have been a popular contribution to the Emory Libraries’ free, hands-on, coloring and fan-making activity at the Decatur Book Festival.

In addition to working as Assistant Conservator for the Emory Libraries. I also conceive, create, and curate solo and collaborative works of art and exhibitions. I like to facilitate free, hands-on, stress-relieving art events on the Emory campus and at local festivals which engage creativity and conversation.

This project is sponsored in part by a grant from the Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts.

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