Nature in Absentia: Monarch Migrations at Friends of Brook Park Community Garden

Join Tea Arts & Culture with artist Michele Brody for Nature in Absentia: Monarch Migrations, a series of community engagement collaborations through the art of paper making, tea, and story sharing. Limited spots. RSVP is required on the Tea Arts & Culture website . Nature in Absentia: Monarch Migrations focuses on comparing the life cycles and threatened migratory patterns of monarch butterflies with current mass migrations spurred on by recent climate crises and political unrest. Milkweed is the only plant on which Monarch butterflies lay their eggs, which serve as the only food source for their caterpillars once they hatch. The artist will work with community members to identify milkweed, along with mugwort, a widespread plant that has been preventing the growth of milkweed in disturbed areas. Mugwort is native to Europe and Eastern Aisa and traditionally has been used as a medicinal herb. We will learn how to peel, boil and break down the bast fibers of milkweed/mugwort stalks into pulp for casting individual sheets of paper with a screened-in framing mold. While the papers are drying, participants will be invited to share tea and write down their family histories of coming to the US as immigrants, or of being native to this land, on previously produced sheets of milkweed/mugwort paper that they will then be shown how to fold into their origami butterfly. These origami butterflies will be put together for a future installation by Michele Brody. About Michele Brody: Michele Brody completed her MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago’s Fibers and Material Studies Department in 1994. She has maintained a full-time studio/exhibition practice as a mixed-media community-based environmental artist in France, Germany, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Chicago, and The Bronx. Recent one-person shows include the Bronx Museum and artist-run spaces JVS Project Space and AAA3A. In 2006 she completed two public art commissions in The Bronx for the MTA and DOE. Brody has received a grant or residency almost every year as a professional artist from the Pollock/ Krasner Foundation, NYFA, NYSCA, Bronx Council on the Arts, Skowhegan, Headlands Center for the Arts, Ox-Bow, Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, and most recently Wave Hill Garden and BronxArtSpace. In 2011 she was awarded Best 3-D Entry at the international Art Prize competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan for her installation “Nature Preserve” at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, and in 2017 was awarded a ” Bronx Recognizes its Own” (BRIO) individual Artist Grant. Michele Brody has been conducting the interdisciplinary community-based project “Reflections in Tea” since 2007. Inspired by the worldwide tradition of drinking and sharing tea, this project has evolved over the years into many forms within a range of spaces and institutions as a mixed-media interactive installation, and as a group event called the “CommuniTea,” in collaboration with a wonderful array of artists and tea practitioners. The ritual performance of preparing loose-leaf tea within special paper filters is shared, after which participants’ conversations are preserved by being transcribed onto stained t-sacs that have been dried and flattened, culminating in the creation of an ever-growing series of fluttering paper quilts. From afar these quilts form an overall composition of a craggy mountain range reminiscent of the mountain sides where tea grows, while when read up close are seen to be pieced together with hundreds of individually handwritten notes and unique drawings. Initially envisioned as a mobile teahouse, the main component of “Reflections in Tea” is the invitation of the public to enter and sit within a semi-private space to share a pot of tea and stories. By taking the time to cross the threshold of the teahouse, each participant is introduced to how the drinking of tea is practiced throughout the world as a transformative custom. Learn more about this project.

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