The butterfly effect

By Deyanneira Colón Maldonado | May 09, 2024

Mariposa Migrantes

Scores of monarch butterflies filled the walls outside Crimi Auditorium this spring as part of an art installation featuring the print work of 125 artists from Chicago and Michoacán, Mexico.

The exhibition, “Mariposa Migrantes” (Migrant Butterflies), explores the human migration experience through the extraordinary journey the monarchs take between Canada and Mexico annually. Each artist expressed their personal experiences around migration by creating a story within a single monarch butterfly print.

Aurora University President Susana Rivera-Mills invited the project to campus after viewing it in Pilsen, a Chicago neighborhood rich in Mexican culture.

The printmakers drew their images in wooden or linoleum blocks and, through “gouge strikes,” created the reliefs from which they printed an image. Some butterfly prints depicted travelers, others had drawings of parents, one had the Statue of Liberty spreading her wings.

“There are so many stories captured within the engraved wings of the prints,” said Betzaida Eurioles, a freshman and social work major who attended the opening reception in February. “The American dream, the hard work, the families, the separation from loved ones, the religion. These challenging experiences are what bring people together.”

The exhibition is a product of the collaboration between Casa Michoacan in Pilsen, the Federation of Michoacan Clubs in Illinois, the National School of Higher Education (ENES) Campus Morelia of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and the Michoacan University of Saint Nicholas of Hidalgo, as well as workshops and printmaking groups in both Chicago and Michoacán. It was organized by AU’s Schingoethe Center.

The individual prints can be appreciated on their own in a “solitary spirit,” but also as a unified statement as the scores of monarchs are displayed together,” said Jose Luis Guitierrez, director of the Federation of Michoacan Clubs in Illinois, one of the exhibition organizers.

“You see the power of each individual butterfly,” he said, “but also realize they are much stronger together.”

The exhibition runs through June 15.