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Memorial Butterflies by Joan Bonnette

South Haven multimedia artist Joan Bonnette joins the 2020 Mistletoe Market Virtual Artist & Artisan Gallery in a flutter of memorial wings.

As does a caterpillar morph into a butterfly, so does found metal in Joan’s hands. Joan works in many mediums, including sculptural butterflies made from rusted metal she finds on South Haven beaches, such as pieces detached from old oil drums that have found their way into Lake Michigan and back.

Designed to hang on a wall, each of these three-dimensional butterflies has a spirit of its own; each representing survivors—those who are still with us, and those who have passed. “We may feel battered and sad and fragile, but we survive and better times are ahead.” In this strange world we now live in, Joan wisely notes that “it [Covid-19] came not to stay, but to pass.”

The butterfly—or Endura—is a theme that began in 1995 and continues to weave its way through Joan’s art.

While at Western Michigan University, where Joan studied printmaking, painting, and other media to earn her MFA, her mother survived a bout of cancer, which led her to conceive the first of thirty “Endura World Spirals.” "My mother was a survivor—she endured and lived to be eighty-seven."

These collaborative butterfly installations have graced the floors of churches, schools, libraries, galleries, and other spaces in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, and many other locations throughout the country. The spirals consist of six-by-six inch butterflies made of every conceivable material that she arranges into intricate works that fill rooms with color, texture, and hope. Some of the spirals contain as many as 500 butterflies made by people from ages two to ninety-six. Through the years she has had contributions from not only the US, but Japan, Australia, and several other countries around the world.

The pieces pictured above are just four of many Endura Joan has to offer for purchase.

Contact Joan directly at to purchase an Endura as a gift to memorialize someone in your life. Joan also invites you to her spacious studio to choose one of her unique artworks. Social distancing and masks will be appreciated!

Happy shopping and happy holidays!

The South Haven Center for the Arts thanks Joan for her contribution to the 2020 Mistletoe Market Virtual Artist & Artisan Gallery, and for helping the art center continue to further its mission of enriching our community through the arts.

The 2020 Mistletoe Market Artist & Artisan Gallery was made possible by the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, and sponsored by South Haven’s Hardt Insurance and the Edward Jones Office of Paul Hix.

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