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Jenny Kendler and the AK Public Art team give out Kendler's Milkweed Dispersal Balloons at the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market

Jenny Kendler and the AK Public Art team give out Kendler's Milkweed Dispersal Balloons at the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market on July 11, 2015. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Artist Jenny Kendler developed Milkweed Dispersal Balloons in response to growing environmental concerns about the plight of Monarch butterflies. As milkweed is the sole food source for Monarch caterpillars, the project seeks to raise awareness of the dangers that pesticides, habitat loss, and climate change pose to pollinators; explain the ecological and economic importance of pollinators, in general, and the plight of Monarchs, in particular; and encourage communities on the United States Monarch migratory pathway to take action to protect this unique species.

During the summer of 2015, Kendler and a team of performers used a specially designed mobile food cart to engage spectators and pass out biodegradable balloons filled with floating, cloud-like milkweed seeds. The artist was in Western New York distributing Milkweed Dispersal Balloons July 11–12 at the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market, Insectival at Tifft Nature Preserve, and Sunday in the Park at Burchfield Nature & Art Center. The AK Public Art team also distributed balloons during Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square, Garden Walk Buffalo, and the Food Truck Rodeo at the Buffalo History Museum.

Participants were asked not to release the balloons, but rather to take them back to their neighborhoods and pop them outside, becoming the agents of seed dispersal by releasing the floating milkweed seeds and allowing the resilient plants the chance to find places to grow in parkways, backyards, and alleyways. These plants will then support migrating Monarch populations in years to come.

Jenny Kendler hands one of her Milkweed Dispersal Balloons to a young participant at the Burchfield Nature & Art Center

Jenny Kendler hands one of her Milkweed Dispersal Balloons to a young participant at the Burchfield Nature & Art Center on July 12, 2015. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Kendler and the Albright-Knox do not advocate the release of any balloons into the environment for safety reasons. The balloon delivery system designed by Kendler is intended only as a temporary transportation and delivery device for active participants and is made with biodegradable materials.

Milkweed Dispersal Balloons is one part of a two-fold work by Jenny Kendler that involves the community dispersal of milkweed and native wildflower seeds throughout Western New York. Learn more about the other part, Kendler’s ReWilding New York (Community Seed Stations).

About Jenny Kendler

Jenny Kendler (American, born 1979) is an interdisciplinary artist, environmental activist, naturalist, and wild forager who lives in Chicago and elsewhere. She is currently the first Artist-in-Residence with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Kendler holds a BFA from The Maryland Institute College of Art (2002) and an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2006). Visit Jenny Kendler’s Website

Thank You!

Many thanks to the following volunteers, who made this project possible: Arlene Brock, Erin Callahan of Nichols School, Albright-Knox docent Terri Colson, Caitlin Conway of Nichols School, Caitlin Crowell of Nichols School, Mia DiNatale, Susan DuVal, Paula Enstice, Ethel Erserro, Erica Flemming, Kim Free, Georgette Frey of Nichols School, Anne Hamilton of Nichols School, Jean Hess, Liz Kolken, Albright-Knox docent Betty Korn, Edie Malizia, Linda Matt, Linda Means, Albright-Knox docent Margery Nobel, Lisa Nolan of the AK Members’ Volunteer Council, Vivian Pearce, Zoe Pearce, Dana Picoine of Nichols School, Albright-Knox docent Gail Pitterman, Evie Resler, Tom Ripley, John Rogers of Nichols School, Liza Ryan of Nichols School, JoAnne Shubert of the AK Members’ Volunteer Council, Albright-Knox docent Kate Soudant, Victoria Sterns, Matthew Szarzanowicz of Nichols School, Albright-Knox docent Mary Therrien, Ava Thompson, Diane Woodill, and Pam Yax, as well as students from Buffalo Seminary, the Cantalician Center, Lancaster High School, and Nichols School.

Initiative Sponsors

The Public Art Initiative is supported by the County of Erie and the City of Buffalo.

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