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Blossoming milkweed and prairie in paper by origami artist Linda Stephen

Blossoming Smooth Milkweed

14" x 12" x 1.5"
Not for Sale

This scene showcases the restored tallgrass prairie in the foreground, and in the distance, the Osage Orange trees that form the historic hedgerow at the Freeman Homestead, one of the first claims filed under the Homestead Act of 1862.

Prairie plants shown include big bluestem grass, smooth milkweed, and goldenrod, the Nebraska state flower. The bit of red in the middle distance is sumac, which only grows on prairie that has previously been plowed.

“Blossoming Smooth Milkweed” was created during my residency in early August when I stayed in a house about 100 yards from the restored tallgrass prairie. Although I invented the origami paper sculptures indoors, so my papers would not blow away, this was a type of “en plein air” work for a paper artist.

In my first days at the prairie, I walked the hiking paths and took photos of dozens of the prairie flowers, butterflies, wildlife and views. I chose to start with this scene with a milkweed in blossom in the foreground and a hedgerow of Osage Orange trees up the hill in the distance.

When choosing paper colors and textures for “Blossoming,” I gathered papers from my inventory and walked about 400 meters across a bridge and along paths to the flower to compare green and pink papers to the live milkweed and surrounding plants. I did this "color match" walk a couple of times a day.

In 2016, “Asclepias Sullivanti” (Smooth Milkweed) was selected to represent the Midwest in the U.S. Botanic Gardens on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The nine-month exhibit “Flora of the National Parks Service” celebrated the 100th anniversary of the National Parks.

“Blossoming Smooth Milkweed” has been exhibited across Nebraska and across the country in solo and group exhibits including “Great Lakes to Great Plains” at the Nebraska Arts Council Fred Simon Gallery, the Nebraska Governor’s Mansion, Homestead National Monument of America, and the University of Nebraska.


Invented origami from hand-dyed and handcrafted Japanese washi papers


Native and restored tallgrass prairies of Nebraska. Since moving to Nebraska in 2005, I have loved walking the tallgrass prairies around Lincoln and seeing the vast array of prairie flowers and butterflies and moths, especially in late summer and fall. In 2014, I had an opportunity to live next to a prairie for two weeks when I was an artist in residence for the National Parks Service at Homestead National Historic Park in Beatrice, Nebraska.






Blossoming milkweed and prairie in paper by origami artist Linda Stephen

Are you interested in a collaborative artwork for your community, business or organization?

I put on workshops across the country for all ages. I specialize in designing artworks and workshops that involve all ages in creating art that celebrates a vision or a place.