Oh Happy Day: My human baby meets my art baby

Oh Happy Day: Taking my human baby to my see art baby at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum!

I was super excited to take my new little family to see the museum debut of my art and conservation project, The Endangered Species Print Project. My husband is a master printer and photographer who has worked on the project over the years, in fact we met at the print bureau where he used to work. My parents were with us, freshly minted grandparents, it was a feel good event. Also going to a family museum seems much more legit when you are pushing a stroller.

For those of you who don't know The Endangered Species Print Project is a project I founded with artist Jenny Kendler way back in 2009. Jenny and I are artists, environmentalists, and animal lovers. We were searching for a way to use what we were good at (art) to help a cause we were passionate about (conserving endangered species).

Our solution? The Endangered Species Print Project (ESPP). The idea is simple but striking. To create art prints of critically endangered species with the number of prints editioned for each species matching its remaining wild population count.  One of our smallest edition runs is of my painting of the Seycheles Sheath-tailed bat. The last population count of these bats counted just 37 remaining in the wild. So once we sell all 37 of our bat prints, that's it.

Proceeds from print sales benefit the animal or plant depicted. To date our little idea has raised over $12,000. for critically endangered species around the globe. Not too shabby, eh?
ESPP prints by Noah Scalin, John Vilhauer, Justin Richel, Jenny Kendler, Daughter Earth and Feral Pony

Although I'm not one to get to celebratory about my accomplishments (generally I just feel I'm doing what I'm supposed to) seeing the ESPP prints and name up in the museum made me feel really good. The project has been a lot of work. Something Jenny and I scraped out bits of time for over the years after our individual art practices and full time day jobs. Seven years into the project (seriously!?) we are planning some improvements and changes to the way we operate to make ESPP more sustainable and hopefully bigger and better.  Our year long tribute to the last Pinta Island tortoise, Lonesome George, Project George is currently underway.

So far 14 artists have participated in the project which has been included in ten international exhibitions and featured in publications like ReadyMade magazine, Orion magazine, Juxtapoz and the Sierra Club's blog. One of my favorite moments was when a little piece on ESPP was published in the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium newsletter. My inner 11 year old who wanted to be a marine biologist and believed whales are magic (I still do of course) was thrilled!

So if you are in Chicago check out "Rare Nature: The Endangered Species Print Project" at the Notebaert. The show runs through October 19, 2014. Rare Nature and the accompanying exhibit "Nature's Struggle: Survival & Extinction are part of Project Passenger Pigeon, a nationwide effort to call attention the the extinction crisis. And check out The Endangered Species Print Project on our website and Facebook page. New prints by Daughter Earth, Feral Pony, and Jenny Kendler will be released in the coming months.

Sometimes I like to paint realistically, deal with it.  
Moldavian Meadow Viper by me and 
California Condor by Barnaby Whitfield.

All exhibit photos courtesy Jim Schafer.