Posted by: Liz Massey | November 10, 2007

Art for the (earth and) sky

I received an e-mail from an old friend (and college roommate) yesterday about an exciting art project she was involved with recently. Angie, who’s the volunteer coordinator for the eastern Kansas-based non-profit Grassland Heritage Foundation, had the chance to work with artist/photographer Daniel Dancer and crop artist Stan Herd to create a large-scale art work featuring an endangered species of butterfly that depends on the (now vanishing) tallgrass prairie for its existence.

That would be exciting enough on its own. But the collaboration went deeper than that…Angie’s painting of the butterfly (see below) formed the basis of Dancer’s and Herd’s work, and the work came to life with the assistance from students at Central Junior High School in Lawrence, Kansas (also below).

The story and the video are amazing. (You can see the final product from the air in the video.) I think the creative lessons to be learned here are these:

1. Partnering with others to realize your creative vision can make the end result stronger and more vibrant.

2. Art used in the service of educating others about an issue can be beautiful, stimulating and even participatory!

3. It really is true that sometimes meaning is nowhere to be found “on the ground” but reveals itself beautifully when you seek a different vantage point.

The butterfly paintingCentral Junior High students form the butterfly on the ground.



  1. Involving students in the production such as this enhances the understanding that, in fact, they are a part of something bigger than themselves – they can produce something beautiful – and that art is found in the everyday goings and comings – we just must be aware.

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