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Seventy-three in a Moment

photo by: Margo Geist

Seventy-three in a Moment

Artist: Tasha Ostrander (American, born 1962)
Date: 1996
Medium: 26,645 handcut, photocopied paper butterflies, stained with tea and coffee; gum arabic; masonite
Dimensions:
120 x 2 1/2 in. (120 in., 6.4 cm)
Classification: Assemblage
Credit Line: Gift of William Siegal, 2012
Keywords and Associated Locations:
Object number: 2012.19
Description
73 in a Moment consists of 26,645 photocopies of butterflies, Xeroxed from David Carter’s 1992 field guide Butterflies and Moths, from the Eyewitness Handbook series. Tasha Ostrander used about 20 different butterflies from that book. The number 73 referred to what was the average American life span at the time the artist made the piece. 26,645 is the number of days in 73 years. This work is, in essence, a meditation on life and death, with the artist asking the question, If you knew how long you had to live, how would you live your days? The use of the butterflies is a metaphor for the brevity of life (butterflies have a short life span) and the idea of metamorphosis. Ostrander did all of the work herself, 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, for one year. The labor-intensiveness of the project was an important aspect of creating the meaning of the work. The work takes the form of a mandala, thus contributing to its significance as a meditative work or spiritual endeavor. To have the 26,645 butterflies seen in one glance is to demonstrate the intensity of a lifetime in a single moment.
Not on view
Publication and Exhibition History: 1996: Linda Durham Contemporary Art, Galiesto, NM, "73 in a Moment" circa 1997-1998: Conlon Siegal Gallery, Santa Fe, NM