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A chrysalis is a hard shell that shrouds the metamorphosis of an insect from its larval stage to its mature moth or butterfly form. It’s not a transformation with larval legs becoming moth legs or larval eyes becoming butterfly eyes. Rather, the larva completely disintegrates and in that DNA mush a new organization happens that we then call moth or butterfly.
A biology teacher and painting student, Barbara Heaton, was fascinated by different chrysalis shapes and the metamorphosis they encase. She wanted to use this motif in making art. We started with the MarcaRelliassumption that the work had to be large and experimented with various materials and approaches, including collaging linen pieces in the form of the chrysalis sections that would then be attached onto a large canvas–reminiscent of Conrad Marca-Relli’s work in the 1950’s.
The artist then abandoned the linen/canvas idea and instead used x-rays of spinal cords she had saved from a medical adventure in her own family. A brilliant, moving and fragile convergence: the chrysalis and the spinal cord. The chrysalis is simply a caterpillar’s way of dying so that a butterfly can be born. Simply and not so simply. It’s a metamorphosis that the imagination won’t just let be, it provokes a poetic look.

14Chrysalis
The x-ray pieces are chrysalis-cut and epoxy-glued to 20 x 18 mylar, which is suspended an inch from the wall with magnets and pegs. In a gallery exhibit there would be four of these panels in a horizontal row, each with a different chrysalis. Exquisite, a moving experience.
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