Art. Remembrance. A Lesson for Life. These three values are what inspires the Butterfly Project, a global grassroots arts and education initiative, using the power of the arts to educate about the dangers of hatred and bigotry using the lessons of the Holocaust. Through the painting of ceramic butterflies, a message of remembrance and hope is permanently displayed around the world to memorialize each of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.
This month, the Sabes JCC will host and present this project to the community, culminating in a fall art installation at the J.
Co-founded in 2006 by educator Jan Landau and artist Cheryl Rattner Price, the Project creates a partnership with everyone that currently has or wants to build a connection to history and honoring those who died in the Holocaust with a goal to empower people to take actions against injustice through art and education. The project led to the documentary “NOT the Last Butterfly,” which started appearing at Film Festivals around the country last year.
“It’s a very fine line between delivering the information about the Holocaust, which breaks everyone’s heart,” said Price. “The kids may not know a lot and you’re bringing them into something so painful and dark. We want to inspire them so that they have some power, especially if they are working with peers to support each other.”
Price was in Minneapolis last weekend as a group of teens who will be staff-in-training at Camp Olami as well as community members took part in the watching the documentary and painting their own ceramic butterflies which will become part of the installation. Globally, there have been more than 150,000 butterflies created since the project started. These works of art are permanently displayed around the world to memorialize each of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.
“We are so thrilled to bring this program to our community,” said Robyn Awend, Director of Cultural Arts at the Sabes JCC. “This is another beautiful example of the healing power of bringing art and community together to create magic. By participating, you get to become part of a global social-action project.”
“The events are phenomenal because it puts a foundation for the project to grow in a community,” she said. “We’re looking to do teacher training, but also working with JCCs and engaging the lay leaders in the community to get involved. There are ways to be ambassadors.”
The Butterfly Project is now a global memorial with over 200 communities, including Canada, Mexico, Israel, Australia, France, Czech Republic, Cuba, Morocco, and Poland.
“We went to Poland three times and ended up meeting a renewed Jewish community,” she said. “We put up butterflies on the wall of the JCC in Krakow. We put them up in a bomb shelter near Gaza. We were invited by the U.S. Embassy to go to Latvia, and we had ambassadors from Germany, Greece, and Lithuania putting butterflies on the wall.”
Price was thrilled about working with Twin Cities Jewish community. “I know the Twin Cities community is an important one,” she said. “I would love for the Twin Cities to be a hub. We’ve highlighted 15 communities that could be a teaching site. Now that we’re here, it seems like this really could be one.”
“Our goal is to include butterflies from as many people, groups and organizations as possible throughout the summer to be part of this community-wide social action project, “said Robyn Awend. “Each painted butterfly is a reminder of hope, transformation, and possibility even in the most trying times.”
For more information about the Sabes JCC event, or to create a butterfly contact Robyn Awend at [email protected].