Symbolic Monarchs (Sent)
Sightings report image

Date: 11/01/2023

Pictured: Student near the screen we used for papermaking of our milkweed butterflies.

Artist we studied to talk about symbolism: YEHIMI CAMBRÓN (
As an eight year old girl crossing the border with her family from Mexico, home was about to be a lot different for Yehimi. What started as an adventure in her eyes, became a scary reality as they got to the desert and had to leave their bags — no longer the “vacation” she thought it was.. While their journey across was relatively safe, there are still so many that cross into the United States every day that are separated from their families, creating chaos and confusion in a child’s upbringing, and suffering for the parents. Growing up, Yehimi understood what it felt like to be separated from her family.

As goes the story, it is the underrepresented, struggling folk that are constantly having to fight for a better life that is the focus. Creating murals for her community is a way for Yehimi to include the stories of people who “are typically left out of the conversation, or who are misrepresented.” It was her parents’ insistence on having a better life that gave Yehimi her first example of leadership and is what led her to be the leader she is today, “Their sacrifices have become a guiding force.” Like her parents were for her, she has been that light for others.

Migrations: The length of the Monarch's migratory path is over 3,000 miles long, and unlike any other butterfly, the Monarch makes this path twice. The butterflies cross two international borders and dozens of states.

Inheritance: No one butterfly completes the trek from the U.S.-Canada border across the U.S. to the butterfly forests of Michoacán, where individual butterflies often return to the same Oyamel Fir tree as their ancestors. They do so by drawing from knowledge inherited from butterflies who forged the path before them.

Transformation: Over the course of its life, the Monarch butterfly takes on radically different forms, transforming from egg to caterpillar, chrysalis, and, finally, butterfly.

Making our butterflies:
We first collected newspapers that use non-toxic ink
Chopped the newspapers into very small pieces
Soaked the newspaper pieces in hot water for 24 hours
Mashed the paper by hand in containers until it formed a pulp
Drained the majority of the water from the containers until it was mostly moist pulp remaining
Added the butterfly seed packets into the pulp mix
Hand-flattened the seeded-pulp onto a wire screen and allowed to dry into paper
Used the template to trace the butterfly shape onto the paper and then decorated with marker

Richmond, VA

Latitude: 37.5 Longitude: -77.4

Observed by: Rachel
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