It was my father who first told me about butterflies when I was only four years old. Sure, I was already attracted to them – a splash of color streaking through the yard on a summer's day. But he had a collection of framed butterflies preserved behind glass, backed with cotton. They were radiant with the magic of nature. There were butterflies with tiger stripes, zebra stripes, black ones with iridescent blue, and some with long and dripping tails called swallowtails. There were moths with fuzzy antennae. Some were very small dainty things. Some were big with great big eyes, it seemed, on their wings. He told me the story of how they started as a caterpillar, became a chrysalis, and finally emerged as a butterfly. The very idea of it blew my young mind! That’s when I became obsessed with butterflies. I began drawing butterflies every chance I got. My Mom went wild over them. At school my teacher helped me to make a small book about butterfly metamorphosis. I drew the pictures and told her what to write. The book was laminated and filed away in the school library for safekeeping.
I chose butterflies as the subject of this painting series because of the transformation, the metamorphosis that they go through. That any creature can begin as a crawling, gorging little insect and then transform into an awe-inspiring flying wonder is just an astounding thing to imagine. It’s the stuff of fairy tales. And yet it happens all the time.
I like to imagine that humans can change like the butterfly. We look out into the world and see people driven by fear and hatred to do unthinkable acts. We humans cannot metamorphose like the butterfly but we can change and transform from fear and hatred and all of their consequences toward love and compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude. If enough of us do this the world can’t help but change for the better. I extend an image to the collective imagination with this exhibit of unmistakable transformation and metamorphosis, just as a reminder.