May 27th, 2021

Unicia Buster:
Human Cecropia

My love of moths continues as I channeled the spirit of the Hyalophora cecropia Linnaeus or Cecropia moth, the largest native North American moth for my latest work of art.

Moths don’t always get a lot of love so I thought I’d showcase their beauty in this costume I created. I hand-painted the wings and skirt. The top and skirt I made using a pattern but altered a bit. The headpiece contains insects that I made from polymer clay, wire, crepe paper and paint. I also included in the headpiece irises that I made from crepe paper, dried flowers, store-bought flowers and rhinestones. The antennae are made from crepe paper and wire. The insects represented: Two carpenter bees (Xylocopa), an Indian Leaf (Kallima inachus) butterfly, a Cecropia (Hyalophora cecropia) moth, an Atlas (Attacus atlas) moth, a Luna (Actias luna) moth, and a Disturbed Tigerwing (Mechanitis polymnia) butterfly. The photos by my awesome photographer/son, Adrian.

Unicia Buster, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden artist in residence as a moth

Luna moth by artist Unicia Butler

A luna moth created by artist in residence Unicia Butler.

Showcased at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va. (where I am an artist-in-residence), I enjoyed greeting visitors and having them guess my costume. The antennae were a dead give-away to those who know the difference between butterfly and moth antenna. One person knew exactly what I was but, of course, she worked there! Unicia Buster and her blue butterfly earring

I love the interactions nature and art bring. The garden recently had dancers and poets present their nature-inspired art to guests. Besides breaking down barriers, the arts promote conversations that would otherwise not happen. 

Stay tuned for the next one! I’m thinking something in purple…

Check out my other wearable art in the garden: Outfit 1, outfit 2, and outfit 3.

Editor’s note: this post originally ran on Unicia Buster’s blog.

Unicia Butler as a moth

Unicia Butler as a moth. Notice the necklace! The antennae are made from crepe paper and wire.

Unicia Buster, a native of Richmond, Va., is one of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden's 2021 artists in residence. Unicia received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Cornell University and a Master of Arts degree from George Mason University. Besides creating, Buster enjoys exploring nature and its inhabitants with her son.

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