Published on April 5th, 2017 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


25-Foot Cascade of Butterflies Presented by S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities at EdVenture

COLUMBIA, S.C.- The S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities presents a visually stunning, 25-foot cascade of Monarch butterflies created by S.C. elementary school children, surrounding the iconic “Eddie” sculpture at EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia, S.C. The giant butterfly mobile is on display through May 12, 2017.

The art installation is the result of the South Carolina Butterfly Collaborative, a statewide, community arts-integration initiative featuring the work of more than 2,300 fifth-grade students from across the state. Developed by the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities as a statewide outreach program, this project tied fifth-grade science curriculum with artistic principles and exploration.

After learning about the ecology and plight of the North American Monarch Butterfly, students in participating K-12 schools across South Carolina painted their own versions of individual butterflies on transparency sheets to hang in the 25-foot mobile, designed to represent the overwintering phase of the monarch’s migration path, when large colonies cluster together on Oyamel fir trees in Mexico.

This community arts-integration project was developed and directed by Elaine Quave, visual arts faculty member at the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. Quave visited 31 participating schools and two Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs throughout the state to work directly with the students.

Participating Midlands schools include Gilbert and Red Bank Elementary Schools in Lexington County School District 1; Joseph Keels and Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary Schools in Richland County School District 2, as well as Cherryvale, Wilder, R.E. Davis and Millwood Elementary Schools in Sumter, S.C.

“In these one-hour sessions, I covered science standards, teaching them about Monarch ecology and their endangered migration patterns, while also reviewing design principles such as pattern, rhythm, and symmetry as they paint their butterfly wings,” explained Quave.

The SCBC exhibit represents the biological phenomenon of the North American Monarch Butterfly’s winter migration, when millions of butterflies migrate south in colonies to converge on the Oyamel fir trees in Mexico. They cluster together creating a unique spectacle as the mountain-top tree branches are completely covered and weighed down by their mass.

According to data presented by Monarch Watch, a non-profit educational outreach program based at the University of Kansas, Monarch populations have declined approximately 80 percent over the past two decades due to deforestation, a decline in food sources, herbicides and pesticides, and changing weather patterns.

“We hope to increase awareness of the plight of the monarch, while providing solutions we can all implement to help reverse these trends,” explained Quave. “These solutions include planting food source plants, such as milkweed and coneflowers, determining when the best times are for using herbicides or pesticides, and participating in Journey North to help monitor butterfly sightings.”

Quave also brought Monarch caterpillars to show the students. “They loved the caterpillars! It was a great way to get them engaged and more in touch with why we’re doing this,” said Quave.

As part of its mission to serve as a resource to teachers and students in South Carolina, the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities offers a comprehensive series of outreach programs, like the S.C. Butterfly Collaborative, designed to bring together artists, educators, community organizations, and students. These initiatives seek to match the school’s resources with the needs and interests of schools and partners statewide.

The S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, located in Greenville, S.C., first opened its doors as a residential, year-round institution in 1999 after offering a summer program for many years. This public, non-profit residential high school accepts artistically talented high school students of South Carolina studying creative writing, dance, drama, music, or visual arts.  Auditions are held around the state each February for the residential school and summer programs.

There is no tuition for attendance; students pay only minimal processing and meal plan fees. An estimated 30% of residential students at SCGSAH benefit from scholarships that fund the meal plan fee, the only major cost required for the 9-month residential school year. Learn more at

About S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities

Located in Greenville, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities (SCGSAH) cultivates young artists from across the state through pre-professional training in the areas of creative writing, dance, drama, music and visual arts. As a public, residential high school, serving juniors and seniors, students refine their talents in a master-apprentice community while receiving a nationally recognized academic education. Summer programs are available to rising 7th-12th grade students, and SCGSAH serves as a resource to all teachers and students in South Carolina, offering comprehensive outreach programs designed to bring together artists, educators, community organizations and schools.



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