My copy: 9780977398846
As of this post, this book is not widely available beyond the Holocaust Museum Houston and it’s affiliates. However, it’s worth looking when you get the chance because of the sheer numbers of butterflies created for The Butterfly Project and the inability for many to see them outside of a museum visit.
Portions of the original compiled butterfly exhibit do move to different locations, though, if you get a chance to see them. Some other Holocaust museums around the country are on board with this, too, with a rotating display.
There isn’t much reading in this book–just some basic background information and introductions by some foundations and affiliates who helped put it together. Taking Flight… is all about the butterflies. It’s essentially an art book 20 years in the making, containing only a fraction of the butterflies created for the Butterfly Project over the years.
The introduction tells about the beginnings of The Butterfly Project, how it started as a teaching opportunity and grew into something adults and children around the world participated in. I won’t spoil it because it’s worth it to really read and absorb (it’s only a few pages). The butterflies are the stars of the book.
Each butterfly is unique, in concept and materials. Some were made by adults, many by children. Some with wire, paper, foam, wood, beads, metal strips, Legos, etc. Because of space, the book includes just 100 of the 1.5 million-plus created and submitted to the museum in nearly 20 years.
I have to admit, Taking Flight… might seem deceptively easy to read because there are so few words. But when one takes the time to really absorb the work that’s lain out in these pages, and think about who might’ve made the butterfly or design incorporating the butterfly and why they did it the way they did. It helps capture the gravitas of the situation, though, in that butterflies are delicate and lives can be cut short so easily–like that of the children they represent.
I would pair this book with another book of pictures (and poems) compiled by Hana Volakova called I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp 1942-1944. I will review that book at another time.
Taking Flight… is a great “art” book, and I would recommend anybody to take the time and absorb it when they get the chance.