BENJAMIN TIMPSON, SHORTLISTED 3RD BIENNIAL’S GRANT
My ancestors come from the Pueblo Indian Tribes. I create, using the wings of butterflies,
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.
Domestic violence and sexual abuse by family members is all too common in Native American
families. This project brings light to an issue affecting thousands of Native American women,
and are an homage to women exposed to heinous circumstances.
Intrinsically, I am inspired by the nature around me 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, beauty, joy, and hope. In tribes of the American Southwest, the butterfly
is revered and respected. The Navajo and Hopi tribes show their admiration for the insect
through the Native American Butterfly Dance. Conceptually I use the butterfly as a catalyst, my
hope is that this series brings awareness to a very important issue through beauty and change.
From the beginning of my process, family members share a photograph of the victim with me. I
construct, out of butterfly wings, the portrait on a light table. The portraits are then photographed
with a 100mm lens, inch by inch, and digitally stitched together. The finished image is then
printed four feet by six feet tall. The metamorphosis of scale is another strong concept of the
The proposed funding will allow me to purchase a macro focusing rail system with a 10x
magnifier for my camera to capture even more of the detail of the butterfly portrait. It would also
allow me to purchase enough butterflies to complete ten more portraits. Most importantly it
would give me the funding to print large scale prints of the portraits.