Allegories rise from butterfly mosaic at school



Driftwood Contributor

Artist Luba Polouvytnova is always looking for ways to beautify our community.

Now, she is coordinating a collaborative mosaic installation among 20 families to up-cycle old crockery, used mirrors and stained glass scraps into a glittering set of giant butterfly wings. This butterfly will wrap around a projecting corner on the Salt Spring Elementary playground, complementing four smaller butterfly mosaic circles created for Earth Day 2018 by school families under her guidance.

This community art project was designed to help people feel connected in these difficult times through shared creativity, and the butterfly design plays with many analogies. For example, on the invitation to participate, Polouvytnova wrote: “During this time of isolation, we can focus our individual energies on a common vision of creating something beautiful for years to come, like caterpillars in our cozy cocoons waiting for the time to emerge together as butterflies.”

This past May, she offered several outdoor, socially distanced introductory lessons about how to make mosaic shapes, then each family who attended was given a small collection of selected plates and glass, along with nippers to cut them. The wing designs incorporate circles with a range of diameters, from three through seven inches, which were assigned to individuals depending on their ages and skill levels, from kindergarteners to adults who’d already taken Polouvytnova’s mosaic courses. Once people completed and delivered their circles to her studio, they could pick out more complicated shapes with corresponding collections of china-ware and coloured glass. Dazzling wings are slowly emerging, and the plan is to install the butterfly at the school in late August.

Why butterflies now? Given Polouvytnova’s heritage, could it be related to an old-fashioned Russian word for butterfly, dushechka, which refers to “little souls” storied to belong to predecessors living on as butterflies? It is nice to imagine grandparent spirits watching over the children in the form of collective art created from their old china sets. Or, could it relate to a hopeful metamorphosis underway in response to COVID-19 and climate change, led by “imaginal cell” people who dream of living lighter, in greater harmony with Earth’s systems? For, as Richard Bach wrote: “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”

For more information about Polouvytnova workshops, see

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