After perusing the surface of maps, nautical charts, odd papers and old books, I select areas of interest, cut them up and fold them using a simple Origami pattern. I then “sculpt” these paper forms with fire, using a small torch. I have been creating butterfly & moth specimen boxes for over ten years now. For the past seven years or so I have been incorporating encaustic (wax) paints (hand made in a small factory in my father’s hometown of Kingston, N.Y.). When I visit R & F Handmade Paint, I am like a child in a candy shop. Both intrigued by watching the process and seduced by the wide variety of colors. It is with these wax paints that I explore color & surface. Each specimen is like a small canvas on which to work.



Words have wings. They fly from my mouth. Shaped by the words that I write, read, hear and speak, I am transformed. Like the butterfly transformed, through metamorphosis. I am altered by the words that surround me. Words: newspapers, books, signs & symbols. Words. Jogging memory, giving direction, inspiring. Building, breaking. Embracing, repelling. Revealing, encasing. Healing, hurting. Collected like rocks or bits of broken shell. Specimens and archives. Museum and vision. Morphed into safekeeping. Unconsciously collected. A personal and mysterious anthropological project of the soul.


Across centuries and borders, butterflies, symbolizing the soul and immortality, fly from the mouths of the sleeping and the dead. Aristotle used the Greek word Psyche to mean both “butterfly” and “human soul.” Psyche now connotes the “mind.” Values, meanings, changes.


I transfer words onto paper or cloth or use found papers and fold these materials through the ancient art of origami, into butterflies. As I fold and burn the materials, the words metamorphose. One disappears into a fold while another appears on a wing. Relationships and meanings change.



                                                                                   Cat Schwenk