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Mayapple Canopy, 2022

Polychromed aluminum, LED solar light, glass, resins 

April 20, 2022- April 2023 





Madison, WI 

UW-Madison Arboretum, Longenecker Horticultural Gardens 

The Madison Public Art Project is delighted to commission the artistic collaboration of two UW alum, Laura Richards and William Grant Turnbull. We partnered with the UW- Arboretum where Canopy Understories premiered to the public on Earth Day, 2022, and will remain on view until Spring, 2023. The Mayapple (podophyllum peltatum) sculpture takes a larger-than-life look at this species native to Wisconsin. Mayapples grow from a creeping root, with one or two umbrella-like leaves per stem. Only stems with two leaves will flower to produce an intensely sour yellow fruit. Unripe fruit, like the rest of the plant, contains podophyllotoxin, a toxic chemical sometimes used in chemotherapy. The fruit is edible once fully ripened. Such poisons' evolved in plants to discourage animals from eating them. 

This site-specific sculpture functions during the day as a shade canopy, its shadow tracing a large arc on the ground like a sundial. It also stored energy from the sun, like photosynthesis in living plants. But instead of using that energy for plant growth and reproduction, it powers a LED-illuminated, blown glass fruit after sunset. Aluminum does not exist in the form of a metal in nature. It can be melted and re-melted, and, like components of living organisms, is easily recycled. This Madison-based artist team is inspired by nature. Their work illuminates how the tools and technology of the modern world can be more sustainable. 

See more work by these talented artists at and @paradigmforge.

This project was supported by Dane County Arts with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, The Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. Additional funding made possible by Summit Credit Union, MG&E Foundation, Wisconsin Alpha Delta Kappa, the generosity of private donors, and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. Commissioned by the Madison Public Art Project organized by Jillian Talarczyk.


*To inquire about a purchase acquisition of the sculpture please email

Download the Canopy Understories Children's Activity Guide 

Mayapple_with bulb.jpg

© Madison Public Art Project | Installation View Canopy Understories, 2022

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