Metamorphosis of the Butterfly

By: Claudy: 09-03-2018

Metamorphosis or transformation is the central theme of this work of art. The butterfly is the ultimate symbol of phenomenal transformation, as it breaks free from the grey chrysalis and unfolds its multicolored wings and morphs into an exquisite shape after several stages of development. For Native Americans, the butterfly has always been a symbol of change and balance, of transformation and freedom, of the state of sleep and dreaming and in general of good luck. 

The ample use in this extended butterfly wing of bluish from the ancient Indigofera also refers directly to the seemingly magical power of this pigment plant to provide transformation, coloring the woolen yarn magically when it is pulled from the indigo bath. The drab brownish green instantly turns into a divine blue under the influence of the oxygen in the fresh air. Transformation is essential to human development and comes about if there is an openness to receive and willingness to let this natural dynamic process take place. With the madder, a root that takes at least five years to develop into a full red pigment.

The Metamorphosis of the Butterfly is also about time as a positive and valuing the labor of love, of time-consuming techniques like hand embroidering writing its poetry forward in times to come. Both pigments indigo and madder were specifically chosen because they are treasures of the cultural heritage from the Dutch Golden Age when Rembrandt and Vermeer benefitted from these pigments in their paintings. By using them in contemporary art the pigment plants are preserved and embedded into modern times.

Looking at the lush colors and the multilayered sumptuous materials the passerby is invited to think about their history and their origins and dream away and let curiosity and imagination do its soothing work during a break in a days work.


Commissioned by Art in Embassies, US Department of State, curators Virginia Shore and Sarah Tanguy.