Through the Lens of Social Justice
Thaler spent much of 2020 documenting the Black Lives Matter actions, the election, the CZU August Lightning Complex fires and the pandemic for the Sentinel. His photograph of Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills and Mayor Justin Cummings taking a knee side-by-side went viral and aired on every major TV network and shared on social media by Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, Katie Couric and George Conway and thousands of others and was seen by millions.
There is an enigma surrounding the butterfly; it is fragile, yet strong. As a descendant of the Pueblo Indian Tribes, Ben Timpson understands that Native Americans embrace the spirituality of nature. In Metamorphosis, he uses the wings of safe-sourced butterflies to create portraits of Native American women who have been murdered, missing, or domestically abused. These women are 2 ½ times more likely to be raped or killed than any other women in America. This project brings light to an issue affecting thousands of Native Americans, and pays an homage to women exposed to heinous circumstances. Timpson states, “I am inspired by nature and feel compelled to tell the story of these women through the symbolic nature of the butterfly wing. The butterfly is a representation of metamorphosis, fragility, and hope. In tribes of the American Southwest, the butterfly is revered and respected.
Conceptually, I use the butterfly as a catalyst. It is my hope that this series brings awareness to a very important issue through beauty and change.” Timpson begins the process by researching Native American victims who have been murdered, missing, or domestically abused. He seeks the family members of these victims, and gives an explanation of the project and intent. The families share photographs with Timpson that he uses as a reference for the portrait. From there, the artist works on a light table to construct a portrait from butterfly wings. Finally, the portrait is photographed and a large-scale emulsion transfer is printed. The original is encased in a wooden frame and backlit with a light panel to show both the transmitted and reflective light qualities of the piece. The photographic print and the original composition are usually displayed together.
Metamorphosis: Rosetta Peters (2020)
Archival Pigment Print 1
Metamorphosis: Rita Smith (2020-21)
Archival Pigment Print