Bronze 90″ x 44″ x 44″ Limited Edition
After the one two punch of Hurricane Katrina (2005) and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (2010), I felt, as a resident of New Orleans, a deep sadness. I needed to re-direct that grief and sadness in a positive manner. I would sculpt to heal and find that newfound beauty, just as a caterpillar is reborn a butterfly. Metamorphosis, a life sized , bronzed female butterfly, represents my inward transformation of this sadness and loss into new life and fresh thought: healing and rebirth!
Metamorphosis mirrors my experiences both personally and artistically. Life changes; events and tragedies occur; and my art and life react together. I started sculpting Metamorphosis, motivated initially by the desire to create a beautiful sculpture transforming my grief into beauty. At the same time, paralleling the grief feelings born of these two events, was a personal serious medical condition. Given those two disaster punches … and these medical problems, I accepted I had to undergo major surgery to correct a painful condition. I made a full recovery with dexterity I had not had in over a decade. After a nine month medically forced hiatus, I returned to the sculpture. My goal was to create this newfound, scintillating beauty, the metamorphosis of my physical and spiritual self manifested in my art.
During my recuperation period, I became intrigued with watching videos of caterpillars going through the process of metamorphosis to a new being … a beautiful butterfly. I felt a strong similarity happening inside me. Growing older brings many challenging as well as wonderful changes. Much of society seems uncomfortable with aging, as if that were a bad thing. But, as I have been going thru the aging process, I have discovered a whole new me: A me that is wiser and more beautiful. The beauty of nature has touched me profoundly. The beautiful acts of kindness in the midst of tragedies that I have witnessed inspired me. While tragic events are striking and many times horrific, beauty is eternal and uplifting.
I had been working on Metamorphosis with the intention of creating a beautiful public sculpture. But, just as has happened with most of my sculptures in the past, the parallels between my art and my personal experiences became clear. Well into the process of creating the sculpture, I needed double knee replacement and was forced to stop working on it to have the surgery. I would not be capable of working on her for nine months (my pupa stage). During that time I was focusing on keeping her hydrated. Without this dedication, the clay would have dried out and the piece completely lost.
My surgery was a huge success. I have wonderful new knees and full quality of life back. When I was able to return to the 450-pound sculpture, I unwrapped it and stepped back to examine her. I could stand and observe her at many more angles and with a new appreciation for my own rebirth. It was then I could see that I had etched pain into the sculpture. She was rigid, holding pain tightly. I pondered many possible changes. It took me another nine months to incorporate them. It was then that I started to envision her as an emerging butterfly woman. She became more insect-like, with eyes large and prominent. Her limbs, feet and hands became elongated, thus evoking the structure of the butterfly I saw in my mind’s eye, an insect of scintillating beauty pushing and poking out of her chrysalis.
She was completed and I was preparing her for our long truck drive to my foundry, Art Foundry Carpino, in Houston. Two days before our departure, I was invited to attend a intimate gathering-for about 8. The event centered around the teachings of a Tibetan monk. I had never been exposed to direct teachings like this and found it so beautiful. He spoke about the Medicine Buddha’s powers of compassion and healing, of forgiveness and love, of kindness, of harmony; qualities our world so desperately needs. As I was finishing Metamorphosis, I kept wondering “why had I positioned the hands of my sculpture in this certain way”: the right hand with finger pointing, while the other hand holds an egg shaped crystal. There seemed to be no conscious reason for me to have chosen this position. To my delight and usual amazement I was enlightened with the reason. She was to be like the medicine Buddha for all to experience with no one religious attachment; a symbol of all are one. The hands of the Medicine Buddha, I discovered, are positioned in the same way! He holds a healing bowl and mine holds the egg shaped crystal. I was deeply moved by this parallel.
After 25 years of sculpting, I still feel immensely moved to have discovered how these beautiful works seem to flow from me. I believe experiences such as with the monk’s lecture are messages sent to me so that I can tell a story. This one is a story of beauty, love, healing, balance, compassion, kindness, forgiveness. This is the story of Metamorphosis. May her presence evoke these emotions within YOU!