Carnegie Mellon Press Release: June 7, 2004
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Press Release

Eric Sloss

For immediate release:
June 7, 2004

Carnegie Mellon Research Fellow Stephanie Flom Lectures On and Exhibits Mayfly Art

PITTSBURGH—Ever since the mayflies returned to Pittsburgh in the spring of 2001, Stephanie Flom, research fellow at Carnegie Mellon's STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and director of the Persephone Project, has been unofficially known as the "mayfly lady." This spring is no exception and as the mayflies return, Flom will lecture about and exhibit her mayfly artwork in the Pittsburgh region throughout the month of June.

Mayflies are a particularly pollution-sensitive species that were not seen in Pittsburgh's Allegheny River for 105 years. In 2001, however, mayflies reemerged by the thousands, a sign that the Pittsburgh waterways are healthier than in past years. In response to this event, Flom created mayfly-inspired cutouts that are reminiscent of Henri Matisse's famed cutouts.

In much of her work, Flom likens the mayflies to the Rusalka, water fairies from Slavic lore. The Rusalka are protective spirits and townspeople coaxed them out of the rivers and into the surrounding villages and forests by leaving food on the riverbanks and hanging strips of cloth from the trees. Forests inhabited by the Rusalka were believed to contain healing waters. Traditionally, the Slavs honored the Rusalka with an annual festival each June, just as Flom is honoring the mayflies this June. "My intent is to connect people to the scientific phenomenon and ecological implication of their appearance as well as to re-install a sense of wonder and rekindle the mythological relationship that humans historically had with the environment," says Flom, "Mayflies are enchanting spirits. They stir our imaginations. The rivers are not only returning to life with flora and fauna, but also with magic and myth."

Flom will share her mayfly experiences and artwork at the following events throughout the month of June:

Three Rivers Arts Festival Annual Exhibition
June 4-20
937 Liberty Ave.
noon-8 p.m. daily
Stephanie Flom, along with fellow Pittsburgh artists Jeremy Boyle and Thad Mosley, was selected as a guest artist for the second Three Rivers Arts Festival Annual Exhibition. Flom will exhibit two pieces in this show, one relating to mayflies. This installation piece, "Beribboned Zelkova with Rusalka Singing," Flom relates mayflies to the Rusalka, Slavic water fairies. Just as the Slavs decorated trees to coax the Rusalka out of the water and into the village, Flom will hang white lace ribbons in the trees outside the gallery to try to draw Pittsburgh's Rusalka, the mayflies, out of the rivers. A high-pitched Slavic dirge will also emanate from the trees. The song, serendipitously entitled "Rusalka," is a recording by Rusalka, Ohio State University's Slavic folk chorus, which is also named after the mythical water fairies. As an exhibiting guest artist, Flom also assisted the curators in selecting the work of 45 regional artists for the show. For more information on the Three Rivers Arts Festival, visit

"Mayflies and Matisse"‹Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Jung Society
June 11: Public Lecture
Chatham College, Buhl Hall, Beckwith Lecture Room
8-10 p.m.

June 12: Public Workshop
Lehner Grain and Cider Mill (Verona, Pa.)
10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
In this weekend public program, Stephanie Flom and psychologist Paul Pitts, Ph.D., will explore how Flom's experiences with her imaginative mayfly art illustrate individuation. On Friday Flom will lecture about the process through which she created her mayfly drawings and cutouts. Pitts will follow Flom's lecture with a Jungian analysis of her experience. The Saturday workshop will focus on symbolism, mythology and local ecology. Flom will present specific information about mayflies and about the mythical Rusalka. Again, Pitts will follow with the Jungian perspective on these myths and transformations. Fees for the public lecture on Friday, June 11, are as follows: $10 members, $12 non-members and $5 students/seniors. Fees for the public workshop on Saturday, June 12, are as follows: $30 members, $40 non-members and $10 students/seniors. For reservations call 412-682-8172 x3.

"Animal Attraction"
June 25-August 6
Fe Gallery (Lawrenceville)
4102 Butler St.
Gallery Hours: Thursday-Friday, noon-4 p.m.
Beginning June 25, Flom will be part of "Animal Attraction," an Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (AAP) show at the Fe Gallery in Lawrenceville. For this exhibit, Flom will create a hatch of white cutout mayflies on a black wall. Because the gallery is near the Allegheny River, Flom hopes that the appearance of live mayflies will enhance her installation. For more information about "Animal Attraction," contact Fe Gallery at 412-860-6028.


Written by Sarah Fait

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