Making Art Accesible
In 2011, I proposed the city agencies for public art but faced limitations and traditional viewpoints. I thought art should reflect our time, affirms who we are and who we can be. However, my proposal to realize art in public spaces was denied both by city authorities and corporations.
I was experimenting on various ideas with collected researching materials to make public art but the idea became more complex and lacked the impact I wished to see. One day while contemplating at my studio, a fluttering butterfly perched on my paintbrush. This moment created an opening. He called it ‘An Artist Converting the City to Butterfly’. Then I designed a butterfly cut-out to initiate an individually led art project called white butterflies to relocate art in everyday lives. My idea was simple: to utilize a motif of a stylized white paper cut into the shape of a butterfly. I went around the city installing butterflies every day. I worked more outside the gallery system and curatorial politics. I started mass production of these art pieces and spread widely to reconsider art and its usage in a consumer frantic world.
The origin of white butterflies can be traced to very personal experiences and creative struggles. It took me to places and expanded his perceptual parameters, cultural references, and worldview. This evolution around my work guided him to a new response (ability) and laid the groundwork for his eco-social -art practice. Various interventions were realized parallel to this ongoing project to push the boundaries of what art is. Fully immersed in this process, I climbed over the building, trees, bridges, to install these butterflies. He returned back to the trees to find their forms altered by the sun, rain, and the wind. Being receptive to nature’s phenomena led to profound breakthroughs. I saw this butterfly as a symbol of hope to share the beauty and bring the potential for transformation hidden in the chaos and confusion of our urban environment. I went around the city installing butterflies every day to discover what realizations such an act would bring me. I began to notice neglected places and the public behavior within the shared space. These White Butterflies gave viewers pause from their daily routines, stirred curiosity, wonder, and viewpoints in the passers-by bringing simple poetry to unexpected places.
People became curious about these butterflies. They started asking questions, conversations began, and as more people discovered the work via personal encounters and through social media, asked if they could also install White Butterflies for different deeply personal reasons. The idea of authorship, ownership dissolved as its meaning is left open for personal interpretation. A nanoscale project that started with a search for personal discovery began to take a life of its own. It kept evolving its own theory and practice in local activism and global art projects.
I continue to be contacted by many individuals and organizations requesting White Butterflies People were to use it in different ways for varied social issues and collaborative community arts-based projects. These butterflies are given free of charge and these are either posted to them or replicated.