Grasshoppers is a children’s book created by Los Angeles-based artist Alexandra Grant in collaboration with the Polk County Historical Society (PCHS) in Osceola, Nebraska. Invited to be the Historical Society’s first Artist-in-Residence and to work with every 5th grader in Polk County, Grant suggested creating a book based on a local story. PCHS’s Patricia Larson suggested adapting her grandmother Belle Davis Hotchkiss’s story about the grasshopper infestation of 1874 (from an annal of local history, “Osceola 1871 -1971”). Florence Grant, a historian at Yale’s Center for British Art, and Alexandra’s sister, condensed the story.
Over the period from October 4-8, 2013, Alexandra and Florence Grant, Larson and other PCHS volunteers worked with almost every 5th grader in the county and others to collaboratively illustrate the Grasshoppers story. The book was published in June 2014, with the participation of 145 people on the drawings and covers, with 19 original illustrations.
Grant has developed a long-term relationship with Polk County and the Historical Society since she returned a stolen tombstone to a local cemetery in 2011. Grasshoppers is part of her commitment to exploring the role contemporary art can play in remembering and reimagining local history.