Making Art Accesible

While I was working on an idea for an art installation, a tiny butterfly came and perched on my paintbrush. It was a revelation that would change my life forever. Living in Kathmandu, I was faced with concerns about the daily pressures of a rapidly changing city that I felt was disrupting social, cultural, and environmental values. With my practice as an artist utilizing diverse media ranging from painting to performance to installation, I was trying to change things in my own way but not feeling very effective. I wanted my work to push the confines of a limited environment in a circle of galleries, curators, critics and fellow artists. I wanted to move from conversations of conceptual art full complexity to simplicity, to reach out to a wider audience. My encounter with this simple white butterfly created an opening. I called it ‘An Artist Converting the City to Butterfly’.

My idea was simple: to utilize a motif of a stylized white paper cut into the shape of a butterfly and to create installations throughout the city. 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. These White Butterflies gave viewers pause from their daily routines, 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.

Today, the project has expanded, blossoming into a traveling exhibit, reaching more than forty countries. 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.