Native Americans embrace the spirituality of nature. There is an enigma surrounding the butterfly; it is fragile yet exquisite. My ancestors are from the Pueblo Indian Tribes. I use the wings of butterflies to create portraits of Native American women who have been murdered, missing, or domestically abused. These women are four 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 American women, and pay an homage to women exposed to heinous circumstances.  Intrinsically, I am inspired by the 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.  I begin my process by researching Native American victims who have been murdered, missing, or domestically abused. I seek the family members of these victims and give explanation of my project and intent. The families share photographs with me that I use as a reference for the portrait. From there, I work on a light table to construct a portrait from safe-sourced butterfly wings. Finally, the portrait is encased in a wooden frame and backlight with a light panel to show both the transmitted and reflective light qualities of the work.


Ben Timpson