“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, it became a butterfly.” – Kathleen Griffin
This is the New Year.
But some years are more difficult than others, so perhaps their endings should be sweeter. The New Year can wake up like morning, as we hope for renewal, the difference between release and forgetting, what knowing makes us become.
It has been a hard year.
A year that reminds us how ugly the world can be. I grew up two towns from Newtown. In my personal world and in the world at large, sometimes life is uglier than we thought it would be, turning out very different than we imagined. In that you have to make a choice, to use that darkness to become something better or to fall into it – to die of it or to become the golden butterfly. To transcend, to fight back with a deeper commitment to beauty, to what you believe in. To purify that hardship. That destruction and madness can be met by our commitment to something better, purer.
As an artist, and I mean that in the broadest sense of the word, particularly in New York City, it can be a very difficult life, and for myself and most creative people I know, you have battle with the question of “why am I doing this?” Why didn’t I become something that just made more money or had a safer track? But when things become horrible it becomes clearer, because it is those visions that allow us to see the world as it can be, who we can be. Medication may stop you from dying, but it teaches you nothing about living, or what is possible.
And in those hard moments we turn to things that can. We touch at that moment, the creator and the receiver. Silently. At the moment that somehow lifts us, reminds us of who we are. The receiver, everyone who stands there, listening or looking, in that moment sees themselves more clearly, in a moment of beauty or wonder.
That is the moment, together on both sides of that equation, we work towards it, that moment of transcendence.
The other day I was hanging out with Charles from SkyScraper Steel. While perhaps not technically the artist, at this point, he is one of the people working almost as hard as I am to realize this, to actualize this particular vision. We were unloading the first golden butterfly next two his two now destroyed houses along the waterfront of Brooklyn. Rather than someone broken, or miserable, I see a friend who is still strong, more refined, who has gathered up his family and is figuring out, despite total destruction, how he will rebuild. He does not skip a beat, he works harder.
For myself, it is a faith in this, my religion in a way, a commitment to hope and beauty, sometimes in the face of everything else.
People ask me all the time why I am doing this, and I dance around the answer, but really that’s it.
This piece is a release of memory, a transformation of it, an image of becoming all that we were meant to be, because, just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, it became a butterfly.
And it is what I want to give to my city, that image, and when you see it, I want you to think of only yourself.