Turning Point by Cleia Muggler

Turning Point was created to respond to my own desire to discuss a polemic topic: immigration. Instead of using human immigration as a subject, I decided to create an artwork based on butterfly migration. Monarch butterflies are one of the most intriguing insects I have ever seen. They endure a very long journey every single year to ensure their continued existence. They appear to be quite captivating since their presence in nature signals a change in season. For example, when butterflies start to appear, people become aware of the beginning of spring. Despite all the admiration, most people can’t imagine the challenges this species needs to overcome in order to survive. Climate change and habitat loss have become the main forces behind the extinction of the North American Monarch butterflies.

In Turning Point, Fibonacci Sequence concepts are applied to create an animation with an optical illusion to mislead and disorient viewer’s perception. The artwork creates a sense of mistrust and vulnerability, similar to the feelings most immigrants feel while looking for shelter. The flock of Monarch butterflies becomes a metaphor for life itself. The visual aspect of the artwork is presented on an LCD monitor, representing the place Monarch butterflies migrate to. Meanwhile, a 3Ddrawing of the main food source for the butterfly is shown as a single perennial followed by many paper butterflies that appear to be flying towards the screen. A mixture of large and small paper butterflies is used to create a wave shape on the wall of the gallery, while other paper butterflies are thrown on the ground right below, adjacent to the wall. The size of the butterflies decreases towards the end of the wave; large and small butterflies have been mixed with some of them having their wings burned. Stronger larger Monarchs are in front leading the way, so weaker ones can find a safer passage.

While this representational artwork looks at the intersection between technology and nature, Turning Point captivates viewers through its poetic way of delivering an important message. It is human nature to flee to places that offer a better chance of survival: butterflies which are often seen as fragile, are unexpectedly portrayed as a strong being ready to break any invisible barrier to survive.