An Herbarium is a collection of dried plants, and this piece was inspired by the 40-specimen Herbariums made by KU students back in the 1870’s. It also includes 40 specimens, each native to Mount Oread – the hill on which KU was built – and the Kaw River banks below. There is one flower that is not indigenous, but is a special part of KU history. Can you guess which one?
At that time each student was taking classes with Professor Snow who required them to arrive in class every day with fresh plant or insect specimens for classification. They would carefully preserve their specimens by pressing them and placing them into a book.
Collecting flora and fauna was such a big part of student life at the time that the first newspaper at KU was called The Observer of Nature. Started as a means for sharing methods and musings about these natural collections, the first issue focused on Lepidoptera – butterflies and moths. The butterflies and moths in the center of this piece are a nod to that Issue #1 and topped by a personal favorite of mine, a bumble bee.
The label on the bottom right was inspired directly by the labels used for KU Herbariums from the late 1800’s, which I visited at the McGregor Herbarium on campus. It serves as a unique signature on this piece and it reads: HERBARIUM.
University of Kansas. 4
31 Plant, 8 Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), 1 Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps)
Locality: KU Campus; Lawrence, KS.
Collector: M. Knappenberger Date, Oct, 2023.
The brown background color is Walnut Ink, which I hand-made from a bit of modern day collecting in Marvin Grove on campus which boasts over 100 Black Walnut trees which were planted by Chancellor Marvin in the late 1870’s. When the green husk is cut open, it oxidizes into a deep brown color. I collected walnuts in the spring and the fall of 2023 and “cooked” them down into an ink which serves as the base layer for all four pieces about native plants.
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