Pura Vida

Artist Nancy Mizuno Elliott in Oakland, California made 1000 butterflies by hand in a year as part of her project "Pura Vida".  In her words...

"Pura Vida is a valentine to the country of Costa Rica and Oakland’s thriving Latino community. Based on the Japanese tradition of 1000 cranes, it is an installation of 1000 hand-made butterflies that was exhibited at two recreation centers located in Oakland’s Fruitvale District. (I live in Oakland, California.)  The butterflies are opulent and ornate, constructed out of paper or acetate, and decorated with watercolor paint, glitter, ink, and tissue paper. The butterflies are 2–6” wide, have folding wings, and were mounted on walls—curving around furniture, entryways, and skylights. Each are unique—some real, some imaginary. And like true valentines, they were given away. At the conclusion of the exhibitions, the public took a butterfly home for free. Additional butterflies were offered to viewers at a suggested donation of $1 each, with all proceeds benefiting the hosting recreation centers. Over $1500 was raised. (The first 500 butterflies were a blast; the next 300 – doable; the last 200 – mind numbing.)"

Why did you decide to do this project? I needed to take a leave-of-absence from the high art community (i.e. courting private galleries) and decided to strengthen my commitment to everyday people and their need for beauty, truth, pleasure, and art. So, I returned to the original inspiration and function of art, that of gift giving and community building.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? I realized that people have good intentions, crave generosity, and the gift of one paper butterfly will bring out their sense of wonder and gratitude. I also learned that it is okay to be sentimental. And you can create  your own relationship with the viewer. Screw galleries and their commodification of artists and art.

See more of Nancy's work HERE.


A DC said...

Carlos Amorales has been doing similar installations for years...hers is a beautiful colorful homage to him. Love it!


Atomic Rose said...

What a beautiful and amazing project. It inspires me in my own 365 journey with spiders, but 1,000 butterflies just has me in awe.

Unknown said...

Wow, I think the butterflies, as well as the spiders are pretty awesome. They both inspire me to create a bug or two; or more? Gotta go and catch up on my blog.