Some background on the project...
Can kindness be a material for art? How does it spread and grow? What inspires acts of kindness? What does this have to do with art?
I began this participatory project for an innovative exhibition, curated by Kristi Engle, at Offramp Gallery. All of the pieces, Kristi explained in a facebook message requesting participants, would be hidden in the garden around the gallery. Around the same time I received this message, I had been increasingly interested in and engaged with art that expands beyond the borders of a museum, gallery, or object. I was also thinking a lot about what really matters most, how we treat one another on an individual and global level, and how art does—or, at times, doesn't—relate to and engage with that. I thought it would be interesting to make a piece that would directly involve and expand kindness in the world.
I started investigating how this could take shape. I wanted to create individual objects as vehicles for the acts of kindness that participants could take with them and even pass out. What in nature grows and spreads, I wondered? I thought about birds and migration but that wasn't quite right. I started asking questions. Mitosis came up, and then, pollinate. This was like a lightbulb. I thought of butterflies first but really bees are the main pollinators.
After some research, I learned that butterflies do in fact pollinate flowers but, interestingly, they are not as effective as bees—essentially, they are spotty pollinators—but they do cover a wider territory. I thought this perfectly mirrored the way people would probably respond to the piece. They will travel far and wide beyond the garden, but how many people will pollinate, or actually complete the act of kindness written on the butterfly? On the other hand, how many will complete the act ten times over, or make and spread new butterflies with new acts of kindness for new people to find?