The Times Takes Notice

Alumnus David Shepard’s botanical-print masks are featured in New York Times

The Times Takes Notice

Besides working as an assistant horticulturist at Lyon Arboretum, David Shepard is the designer of his own line of men’s and women’s clothing, which uses place-based Hawaiian botanical prints to raise awareness and funding for conservation causes.

Responding to the need for more personal protective equipment (PPE), the alumnus of CTAHR’s Department of Tropical Plants and Soil Sciences began creating tropical-themed face masks. They were recently featured in a New York Times article, “The Hidden Language of Masks,” which describes how the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has mobilized a Rapid Response Collecting Task Force to collect artifacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic—including David’s masks!—in order to capture history as it unfolds.

David’s hand-drawn designs are based on his work with plants at Limahuli Garden, Kalaupapa National Park, and Lyon Arboretum. He uses fabric and fashion to tell stories about our native flora and fauna and show why we must love and care for the ‘āina. A portion of profits goes back to the conservation and research organizations featured.

He says, “My mission is to raise awareness and appreciation of rare and endangered native Hawaiian plants, encourage environmental stewardship, promote Hawaiian values, and create a platform for the people and organizations that do this inspiring work.”


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