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Popodicon receives garden grant, will unveil student sculpture April 24

ISSUED: 18 April 2018
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The endangered monarch butterfly will have a place to rest at Shepherd University thanks to a $500 grant from The Monarch Alliance, a program of the Potomac Valley Audubon Society. In addition, the historic garden at Popodicon will soon have a new sculpture designed by a Shepherd student that represents the garden’s importance to pollinators like the monarch.

The Friends of Popodicon will use the grant to purchase plants needed for the butterflies to feed, rest, and procreate. Monarch butterflies migrate each year between Canada and Mexico. They are in danger of disappearing because of loss of milkweed, which monarchs need to lay eggs on, and flowering plants needed for food sources.

“The aim of The Monarch Alliance is to have as many monarch waystations along the migration route as possible,” said Elisabeth Staro, lead for the Popodicon garden restoration project. “As the butterflies are going through their lifecycle and migrating, they go from place to place to be able to feed and rest. It can be just a little portion of your yard where you plant some butterfly weed or something to help and nurture them so they can make their long journey to Mexico.”

Monarchs will find what they need in Popodicon’s front entrance and formal gardens. “Both of them will be planted as monarch waystations and integrated with plants for the monarch lifecycles from egg, to caterpillar, to pupa or chrysalis, and finally butterfly,” Staro said.

Shepherd is one of seven entities that received grants from The Monarch Alliance this year. The grant program awards vouchers for up to $1,000 toward the purchase of plants during one of The Monarch Alliance’s native plant sales at Sunny Meadows Garden Center in Boonsboro, Maryland.

“We’re thrilled,” Staro said. “We were looking to help the monarch and all pollinators and to educate the public. This grant will help us achieve those goals.”

The monarch and its fellow pollinator, the honeybee, will be represented in the center of Popodicon’s formal garden by a four-foot sculpture created by Shepherd student Alyssa Imes, Emmitsburg, Maryland, a B.F.A. major with a concentration in sculpture.

“My idea was to have a profile of a wing of the monarch butterfly with its vein pattern and on the inside where the spots are, create a honeycomb pattern,” Imes said. “The piece is called ‘Winged Forces’ because they are both pollinators, and they both flourish the garden itself. The wing will be black and the spots are going to be that yellowish tint of honey.”

Imes worked with Kevin Dartt, 3D fabrication manager, to create the sculpture using 3D software and CNC milling. Dartt said Imes was one of several students who submitted strong applications with design ideas, giving them all valuable experience.

“It’s not every day that a university is sending out a call for public sculpture to students,” Dartt said. “This is something that provides good experience for fine art and sculpture students who are looking to do more public artwork. It’s an opportunity to get direct feedback through the application process.”

Creating this public sculpture is giving Imes the chance to fulfill one of her dreams.

“When I came to Shepherd, it was before the school had many sculptures on campus. I thought it would be cool to leave something behind,” Imes said. “I can’t believe I am actually able to leave something behind, so it’s really special.”

The sculpture will be unveiled on Tuesday, April 24, at noon. The event is free and open to the public.

Visitors will have a chance to tour Popodicon and its gardens during the Shenandoah-Potomac Garden Council 63rd Annual House and Garden Tour April 28-29.

Listen to the interview HERE.

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