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Home Programs Finding Flowers and Butterflies at MSVU

Finding Flowers and Butterflies at MSVU

Guest speakers Lisa Myers, an artist and curator, and Dr. Sheila Colla, a native-bee ecologist, will present about their collaborative project Finding Flowers and the work of late Mi’kmaq artist Mike MacDonald. Finding Flowers is an interdisciplinary research project, housed in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University, that integrates art, ecology, and education within a biocultural approach to native pollinators, their decline, and plant diversity conservation. Inspired by the work of Mike MacDonald, Finding Flowers revitalizes, grows, and cares for native pollinator gardens as art installations and spaces for community gathering and knowledge co-production.

Mike MacDonald (1941-2006) was a self-taught video installation, photography, new media artist, and gardener. Informed by his encounters with butterflies and their connection to medicine plants and healing, Mike planted butterfly gardens across Canada from 1995-2003. His gardens made space for contemplation, close observation of butterflies and their interaction with medicine plants, and prioritized Indigenous knowledge over the commodification of land. In conjunction with his 1997 exhibition Digital Garden, Mike planted and cared for a small butterfly garden along the parking lot retaining wall near MSVU Art Gallery. The garden no longer exists but the Gallery plans to re-plant it this year in partnership with Finding Flowers, and campus and local community members.

All are welcome to attend this online presentation to learn more about Finding Flowers, Mike, his artwork, and how to get involved with re-creating his original Butterfly Garden on the grounds at MSVU. The second part of the presentation will be open for attendees to ask questions about the project or share their memories and experiences of Mike’s original garden.

Use link below to join the event

Friday, March 25 at 2:00pm AT

This event will take place live online and will use auto-captions. The presentation portion of the event will be recorded and once the event has concluded, the transcript will be edited and integrated into the video recording as closed captions. The final video will be housed on for on-demand viewing. If you require live ASL interpretation or any other accessibility-related resources or supports, please contact

About the Presenters
Lisa Myers is an independent curator and artist with a keen interest in interdisciplinary collaboration. Her recent work involves printmaking, stop-motion animation and performance; since 2010 she has worked with anthocyanin pigment from blueberries in printmaking and stop-motion animation. Her participatory performances involve sharing berries and other food items in social gatherings reflecting on the value found in place and displacement; straining and absorbing. She has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions in venues including Urban Shaman (Winnipeg), Art Gallery of Peterborough and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Her writing has been published in a number of exhibition publications in addition to the journal Senses and Society, C Magazine and FUSE Magazine. Myers is a member of Beausoleil First Nation and she is based in Port Severn and Toronto, Ontario. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University.

Dr. Sheila Colla is a classically trained ecologist that uses scientific principles to address real-world conservation issues. Her research thus far has focused on the conservation of lesser understood native species such as bees, butterflies and flowering plants. As pollinators and pollination have become important issues among policymakers and the public in recent years, her work has become more interdisciplinary; today she works closely with environmental NGOs, landowners, academic partners and government agencies at the municipal, provincial and federal levels to implement conservation management based on the best available science. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University.


[image: Mike MacDonald, detail from Digital Garden placemat series, 1997]


Friday, March 25, 2022


2:00 pm