Inspired by a simple yet effective phrase: “butterflies in my stomach,” I became interested in how this idiomatic expression can be used to describe how one feels based on a visual example. The expression aims to describe a nervous feeling one has in their stomach before experiencing a monumental event, while comparing it to the actions of a butterfly’s fluttering wings. Together with the empowering words of Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Lady Lazarus’, I knew I wanted to create a life-size sculptural piece that merged digital with the physical; using practical, tactile methods I wasn’t familiar with at all, but always wanted to try.
I began by modeling the woman in Zbrush, referencing photos of life-drawing models for the pose as well as ancient marble statues for their docile nature in terms of body language. In the end, the final pose allows us to see this vulnerability as well as creates a negative space that serves as a canvas for a live-action motion poem with the goal of projecting visuals directly onto abdomen.
After sculpting her digitally, I separated each layer in preparation for CNC-milling. I chose walnut wood as the sculpture’s main medium due to its dark, vibrant tones and grain patterns. With that, I ventured over to the nearest lumberyard and went to work to prepare my wood.
After planing, joining, and gluing the wood for CNC, I sanded her down to a smooth grit and coated her with a non-staining walnut finish for the final presentation. This wood sculpture was an attempt to capture the raw emotion that comes from within us in the most natural way possible while still merging digital skills to bring her to life.