It can be problematic working with a universal image as common as the butterfly. You see them everywhere, from hair clips to wall décor – the butterfly form is ingrained in our collective conscious. Because the butterfly is a cross-cultural symbol, we wanted to present them in a contemporary material, make them ethereal, and give them a different context by increasing their size. Juxtaposing the piece against the intersection of a natural and an urban setting gives the symbol further meaning so that one might contemplate the ecological significance of the symbol.
The symbol of the butterfly possesses diverse and cross-cultural meaning. In both Eastern and Western thought, the butterfly represents transformation, freedom, joy and the power of change. On an immediate level, the image represents evolution in its purest and most immediate form, from crawling caterpillar to winged creature. On a broader level, the butterfly is a powerful symbol of the passage of time, and holds meaning in multiple traditions. One often marvels at the allure of the butterfly, but rarely considers the intense and complex process that the insect endures to reach this transformation of beauty and flight.
In Native American folklore, the butterfly is a symbol of the Creation myth, bringer of dreams and messages. In West Africa, the symbol of the butterfly represents the knowledge of the true self. In China, two butterflies are symbols of the perfect union of two lovers. There are many examples of butterflies representing the soul, from Ancient Greece (Psyche) to early Christian mythology. The Celtic butterfly represents rebirth and inspiration. In Hinduism, the butterfly often symbolizes the importance of meditation. As a motif, throughout the world, the butterfly can be found painted, carved and embroidered on objects as varied as warriors’ masks to infants’ blankets. Despite our contemporary view of butterflies as graceful, delicate, even vulnerable, in many cultures it is a representation of courage and strength.
For Flutter, we used translucent acrylic to create the piece. We chose this material because it interacts with natural light and is capable of projecting the image beyond the piece itself, adding another dimension to the experience of the public. The wing angles are designed to give the illusion of fluttering.
With outdoor Public Art, an artist must be nimble, make work that is durable, while at the same being true to the concept and design. By creating and installing Flutter and juxtaposing the installation within the milieu of an urban path, it is our hope that the piece will create an unexpected experience that will engage the public and make viewers think about the meaning of this symbol while enjoying the bike path.
PAST EVENT: ARTIST’S TALK
Wednesday, August 30, 2017 from 6 to 8 pm
Outside|In: Talking About Public Art at 13FOREST
Join Claudia Ravaschiere and Michael Moss for refreshments and a discussion about Flutter and their other public commissions work. Co-sponsored by 13FOREST Gallery, Arlington Public Art, and the Arlington Commission on Arts and Culture. Meet at 13FOREST GALLERY, 167A Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington. For more information visit our friends at 13FOREST Gallery
PATHWAYS is supported by grants from the Arlington Cultural Council, a local agency, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.