The Butterfly Is?

April 25 – 30, 2022

Honors Candidate Exhibition
stArt Gallery

Yunqi (Qiqi) Ying


The Butterfly Is? is an exhibition in contemplation of an ancient Chinese fable: The Butterfly Dream (Zhuang Zhou Meng Die). It incorporates a mix-media installation, photography and digital illustration as an experiment to juxtapose the fable’s Eastern philosophy with a postmodern backdrop. There is an innate dichotomy that lies within The Butterfly Dream and the utopian reality the artist created using manufactured materials, i.e. the plastic ball and resin, image processing technologies, such as Photoshop and Epson high-res scanning machine. The former rings a harmonious tone in the symphony of human being and nature while the latter denies the natural process of perishability by imitating nature with subjective and flattened imagery of natural objects. Are human beings one with all organic things surrounding us? Or are we constantly confronted with compulsion to take ownership over things that do not resemble us?

In The Butterfly Dream On Sakura Petals the artist sets their audiences up for a magazine-adjacent visual experience and presents a mediated hyperreality where petals are dried, flattened and then scanned in high-resolution so that every vein and withering brown spot renders perceptible to human eyes. The Butterfly Dream On Sakura Petals is partially positioned in a cascade with transparent fishing strings allowing some movement, followed by swirl and piling motion on the floor. The artist parallels sakura flowers’ ephemerality with the fleeting butterfly dream only to arrive at an absurd hyperreality where everything in the work is archival and far from perishable.

For Flutter (The Butterfly Ball), audiences are welcomed to gently touch and roll the ball around the gallery to activate “fluttering” and interact with the white box space and possibly fellow audiences. Sprinkled and dribbled with transparent epoxy resin intending to mimic fallen raindrops, The Butterfly Ball fabricates a suspended imagery in time as if a butterfly is resting with dampened wings after a rain. Resin drops will fall as audiences interact with the butterfly, freeing the butterfly of unnecessary weight of water.

For Butterflies Arrived When Night Started Falling, a sequence of five photographs with digital illustration, the artist offers a visual narrative of butterflies flying into the spilling branches and blossoms of sakura trees and eventually disappearing when the sky fully turns dark. The artist leaves visual inconsistencies, acting like breadcrumbs, in hopes to lead audiences to deconstructions of the verisimilitude.


Yunqi Ying, or Qiqi, is primarily an image maker who works to photograph queer and femme individuals throughout their undergraduate years being a Studio Art major at Wake Forest University. For this honors project, they took on a first step into the fine art realm with means of installation art and illustrations..

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