In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), a craft butterfly workshop was held in front of State Senator Julia Salazar’s district office at 212 Evergreen Ave. on Thursday, September 30. Construction paper, glue, glitter, paint and other craft supplies were provided by the office team who organized the event.

According to Gabby Vazquez, a Brooklynite multimedia designer and curatorial assistant, the workshop is just phase one of the Butterfly Project — a community-led effort to create a collage that will eventually take up an entire wall in Sen. Salazar’s office.

The workshop’s completed butterflies.
The workshop’s completed butterflies.

“I knew that I wanted to merge some kind of thing around Latinx culture, Spanish-speaking cultures, and those histories and those narratives around immigration and migration with politics,” she told Bushwick Daily. “The Butterly Project [is] a great extension of that creative process that can emerge within a public official’s office.”

The team hopes to get in a few more craft sessions before the weather gets colder. 

“It will be a great collaborative, decorative element created by children from the district, families, interns, friends, anyone really. It’s going to be a beautiful visualization of Julia’s community,” said Vazquez. 

Sen. Salazar admiring a butterfly.
Sen. Salazar admiring a butterfly.

Several butterflies were added to the collection on Thursday, some which had uplifting messages for the Latinx community such as “Si Se Pudo” and “Latinos Unidos, Jamás Serán Vencidos.”

The next planned craft session will honor Día de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday that celebrates the return of deceased loved ones on November 1 and 2 represented by the arrival of monarch butterflies after their annual migration.

Though the details aren’t set in place, the goal is to have more kids craft butterflies as well as other objects that will be added to the collage. The office team is also hoping to host the event at Maria Hernández Park, where there’s more foot traffic so more people can join in if they’d like.

According to Vazquez, Sen. Salazar’s vision is to see more creative projects come out of her own office to support local artists. When the Butterfly Project was first proposed during the fall of 2020, Sen. Salazar was one of the people “most enthusiastic and supportive” about it, explained Vazquez. 

The office team present at the workshop. From left: constituent services director Carlos Calzadilla-Palacio, intern Vanesa Brun, Gabby Vazquez, and intern Benjamin Miller.
The office team present at the workshop. From left: constituent services director Carlos Calzadilla-Palacio, intern Vanesa Brun, Gabby Vazquez, and intern Benjamin Miller.

“She believes in her interns and the local organizers that are affiliated with her office in some way. She’s very welcoming. Her entire staff are amazing mentors and they really take on so many young organizers under their wing,” said Vazquez who was a previous intern herself. To attest to that, Vazquez shared an anecdote about the time she designed a dress for Salazar to be worn at a 2020 Census event.

Salazar, who, according to Vazquez, was visiting prison facilities on Rikers Island due to the ongoing crisis, was only able to momentarily stop by the tables to admire the butterflies.

“There is an incredible amount of discourse speaking to the inevitable relationships between art, politics and community organizing, making the Butterfly Project an honor to provide space for,” wrote Salazar in a statement provided to Bushwick Daily. “It brings my entire staff and I immense joy and pride to see our interns and fellows learn, realize their endeavors and flourish.”

To get involved and add your own butterfly (or three!) to the collage, follow Sen. Salazar’s Instagram. Though the group is starting out from within Sen. Salazar’s office, they plan to enlist the help of volunteers once the project gets bigger.

All photos: Allie Herrera

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