When it came to creating the cover illustration, we had three major themes: sustainability, connectedness and Notre Dame. The cover story centers on the work being done here to think deeply about faith, business and the challenge to care for our environment as put forth in the papal encyclical Laudato Si’.
The challenge was to translate those themes into flora and fauna for the illustration. If Notre Dame had an official flower, animal, bird or tree, what would it be?
We took a quick and very unofficial poll of several people who, for one reason or another, have gone over this campus with a fine-toothed comb: photographer Matt Cashore; Hesburgh Library archivist Elizabeth Hogan; Barbara Hellenthal, botanist and curator of the Museum of Biodiversity and Greene-Nieuwland Herbarium and a few other folks. We also studied architectural patterns, stained-glass windows, the Main Building murals and the Basilica art.
Putting all our lists together, we found some commonalities: clover/shamrocks and an accompanying bee (just for fun, we hid a four-leaf clover on the cover), ivy to suggest academia, the beloved sycamore tree down by the Grotto, magnolia blooms found by the Main Building and represented in architectural detail (way more often than you might think), a dragonfly to suggest the lakes, oak leaves and acorns, and crab apple blossoms native to the area.
We found, too, that the lists diverged in interesting ways: mute swans, a blue heron, tulips, roses, an Irish terrier and poppies, among others. (Worth noting: The squirrel was on everyone’s list, but alas, was too big for the scale of the cover.)
Ultimately, perhaps “Notre Dame” isn’t easily distilled into a singular essence, but is a lived experience with variations as numerous as the individuals who study, teach, work and play here.
Photos by Matt Cashore and Barbara Johnston