One Butterfly Down, 16 to Go

Kathleen Griffin In Progress Leave a comment   ,

“You imagine, when you start a project like this, that one day you’re going to turn a corner, and it will all come together.”  – Kathleen Griffin

Somehow the emails from Humankind got lost in outer space the last few days so I am just finding out now, the first butterfly is out of the mold. For anyone who is just coming to the Blog, Kate Kaman and Joel Erland at Humankind are doing the butterfly fabrication in Philadelphia.

These emails mark a dividing line. The first butterfly is here, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of them come. But the first one is here. This is no longer an idea, it’s a physical reality. It’s been three and a half years since the start of this, so it’s kind of a big deal. I used to feel like each drawing I did pulled the reality of the project closer, then finally the drawings became drawings and models, then a drawing made a foam prototype, then another one, then a pattern. Then engineering drawings planned out a steel armature, then cut a steel armature. And now, well, I have a thirteen foot butterfly that can withstand winds of over 100 miles an hour. So I guess I’m entering the portion of the project where actual butterflies start pulling the project closer. Each thing, step by step.

You imagine, when you start a project like this, that one day you’re going to turn a corner, and it will all come together. That it will be unstoppable, locked down and sewn up and you will be able to just sit back, relax and enjoy it. But that isn’t at all how it actually is, it’s so many millions of tiny steps that it can feel eternal or doesn’t ever move forward in a measurable way. It’s just like when you’re in a band- first you think that if you ever get signed you will have made it, then you realize that getting signed is only the beginning. Each step in this project is one of a thousand, so when something tangible happens, it feels like a really big deal.

Today there is a butterfly, and tonight when I go to sleep it will be in a world that has one of my giant butterflies in it. And that is what I set out to do in the first place.

I wanted to live in a world where golden butterflies could appear and carry off the buildings, that the things in my head were as real as the cars I pass in the street or the letters that come in the mail.

So, the first butterfly has arrived. And yes, it is bigger than my car.

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