Guest Blog: Mapping a Reflective Ecology

Last summer, Maker-in-Residence Katelyn Patton led eight workshops and curated Field Guide to Chicago. Her work Reflective Ecology is on view on State Street south of the main entrance through December 2021. Her guest blog shares her experience collaborating with the public to create her work. You can download Patton's instructions for paper flowers on Thingiverse. Additional kits are available in the Popular Library on the ground floor of Harold Washington Library Center while supplies last. 

Reflective Ecology

This project is the culmination of many conversations and interactions between city-dwellers and the more-than-human-world that encompasses them. As maker-in-residence I led workshop participants in crafting paper and fibrous replicas of native Chicago species and engaged them with their own experiences of the nature found in the city. I gathered these observations and more from the larger public and created two works: a map and a window display. 

The map is an interpretive field guide to the city capturing what was noticed this summer. Rather than showing how to identify species, it documents non-scientific knowledge to create a subjective and specific record of how people were connecting to the environment. My hope is to continue this documentation seasonally. 

The window display is an invitation to literally reflect on the interaction of nature, humans and urban environments. Through the use of mirrors, cut outs and paper models, viewers can see themselves reflected and integrated into an assemblage of native species and the city that surrounds them.

The Maker Lab is generously supported by Comcast and donors to the Chicago Public Library Foundation.