Night Flight presents an illuminated, physical, and interactive animation of a butterfly in flight. The butterfly, perennial symbol of the gardens and the work of the naturalists at Ladew, is captured in 16 sequential stages of flight emanating from the viewer across the fields. Each butterfly is cut from 0.25” acrylic sheet and scaled to approximately 12” across, textured to capture the light from a powerful LED recessed in a fixture below. As the viewer activates the installation by reaching for the image of the butterfly on the activation panel, the butterflies illuminate in varied sequences, tracing the path of its flight out and across the garden. This piece operates exclusively on captured solar power.
The butterfly represented is the Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) chosen for this project as a result of discussions with the butterfly conservationists at Ladew. Despite its official designation as the official state insect of Maryland, populations of the Baltimore Checkerspot in Maryland have declined significantly due to loss of the wetland habitats in which they thrive. Currently this butterfly is only to be found in a handful of sites at the northwest periphery of the state. This project aims to highlight that loss by placing the Checkerspot once again in the gardens at Ladew as a ghostly afterimage.
Documentation from Ladew Garden's GLOW; Monkton, Maryland 2019 - 2023