When it comes to matters of life and death, moments of beauty can be hard to find, especially in our most difficult days. But for the folks over at UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing), beauty can emerge within the very work they support: organ transplantation. And the walls of The Gallery at UNOS (now online) are a vivid testament.
The gallery, in pre-COVID times, had a new exhibition every two months and would welcome people into its space on RVA First Friday art walks. Its gallery held space for artists who were transplant recipients, donors and artists whose work revolves around the themes of life.
In its latest exhibition, opening virtually on March 5, The Gallery at UNOS will be showing “Kaleidoscope.” The installation is a bow to the kaleidoscopes of our youth, the colorful mosaics of changing patterns and shape, evoking the wings of a butterfly.
“Butterflies are a symbol of life,” explains the gallery description, “[They] are a symbol of life and often used to depict the organ donation and transplantation journey visually.”
With the butterfly theme, UNOS put out an open call for volunteer artists from around the country. They were asked to download a butterfly template in order to create their own art, which has now been curated as part of the exhibition. “Kaleidoscope” honors those who gave and celebrates those who have received the Gift of Life.
Elvin Floyd is a butterfly artist whose work is featured in “Kaleidoscope.” His butterfly art is created with real butterflies and moths from Peru— home to 20% of the world’s butterfly population. The butterflies used to create his framed art were farm-raised in a conservation effort where they naturally lived out their lives.
Floyd’s 8-year-old daughter Sydney received her angel wings on June 21, 2017. Her donation saved the life of another child.