In what seems to be developing into a Christmas tradition, Connecticut’s Lyman Allyn Art Museum is once again presenting a whimsical family friendly exhibition for the holiday season. Last year it was Camomile Hixon’s Unicorns, the year before was James Gurney’s dinosaurs, this year it’s butterflies.
East Lyme artist Brian Keith Stephens has installed over 100 Mylar, floor to ceiling scrolls decorated with the silk screen renderings of a multitude of butterflies in Day-Glo colors. Displayed in a controlled Black light, the lighting that makes lint on a dark t-shirt stand out, environment the exhibition is a fantasy of light and color. The reverse of the scrolls have been left blank, allowing the reflective properties of the Mylar to mirror the adjacent scrolls along with the visitors in this “Butterfly Forrest” of an exhibition.
A regular visitor to butterfly houses and gardens, "Catch the Butterflies" reflects Stephens’ fascination with these beloved multi hued creatures. "Standing in an enclosure full of butterflies has an electrifying energy because your sense of space and depth condenses as the creatures flutter closer to you," Stephens said. "This is precisely the feeling I wanted to conjure with my butterfly forest."
Reflecting on this particular installation he stated "I wanted people to meander in different directions, I wanted to dissolve the walls and the space so you can get lost a little bit like in a carnival funhouse."
This is not Stephens’ first depiction of these creatures that Chinese folklore associates with a girls maturation into adulthood. In 2012 his “Butterfly Kisses” exhibition was shown at the Diane Birdsall Gallery in Old Lyme, Connecticut. This exhibition likewise approached the subject using hanging scrolls but without the controlled lighting afforded by the Lyman Allyn Art Museum.