A butterfly built by an island

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 6:45pm
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Don’t be alarmed if you see a huge butterfly fluttering at Ball O’Brien Park this summer. Island resident Sue Black has been pushing for a fiber art installation that will be a collaboration between a New York artist and the entire Block Island community.

The project, coined “On Island Fiber Arts: The Making of a Butterfly,” was originally planned as a collaboration between the eighth grade Roots and Wings program and fiber artist Naomi Lawrence. Roots and Wings is a two-part program that has been conducted for many years on Block Island. The first part is a retreat for the kids in a “secret place” on the island, where they explore their roots. Later the students visit New York City — a first-time trip for many of them, where they explore their wings.

“One of our biggest risk factors is social isolation on the island. This trip helps to get students to new environments. It has grown into a school program, not just wellness for the school, but an actual program. It’s doing service work, connecting with people who live there, learning how to navigate – spreading their wings,” said Black.

But with the nation taking shelter from COVID-19, the annual Roots and Wings trip “will be postponed this year, until further notice,” said Block Island School Principal Kristine Monje.

“But we are still doing the butterfly installation project,” said Black.

At a recent Land Trust meeting, Black pitched the art installation project — the Land Trust has jurisdiction over the Ball O’Brien Park property — and she was recently given approval from the Town Council to move forward with it. She had also received letters of support from the Land Trust, Recreation Department, and the Historic District Commission.

The project will be made of industrial-strength yarn under the guiding leadership of Lawrence. Lawrence, who is originally from Britain and now lives in New York City, has crafted colorful butterflies, hearts, and flowers in public spaces in New York.

In 2017, she and her husband purchased a home on Center Road on Block Island.

With the Roots and Wings trip cancelled, the focus of the project has changed.

“We had plans for the students to kick off the project, but it has now become a community project,” said Monje.

Black asked residents to “knit or crochet five-inch by five-inch squares, any pattern.” She needed about 100 squares for the butterfly, which were made, to ship off to Lawrence in New York, where she will prepare them and then bring them out to the island later this spring.  Black said she now needs squares for the next project, a caterpillar.

The squares will be installed on the fence at the Ball O’Brien Park.

The Land Trust previously noted to have the installation be removed by Columbus Day, “or sooner if it becomes an eye-sore.”

To learn more about the project and to participate, contact Sue Black for more information at (603) 677-2356 or sueb3@verizon.net.