Things get a little dark for tonight’s post. It started when I noticed a butterfly in the grass while I was mowing and stopped to take photos. It stayed still enough for me to snap a few shots with my cell phone. When I saw it still wasn’t moving after that, I prodded it with a leaf. As the butterfly fell over it proved the poor creature was dead. I started to get up to resume mowing, but then it occurred to me that I would probably never have the opportunity to photograph a butterfly that won’t fly away ever again.
I gingerly picked up the butterfly with a dead leaf and walked it over to the nearest flowerbed. I propped it up in such a way that it would look like it was standing naturally. It became a sort of delicate balancing act to get it to stay in place. The legs are a giveaway though. When an insect dies, the legs curl up. If you look closely at the legs, the butterfly is actually standing on its knees instead of its feet.
While the photo itself feels a little morbid, I’ve seen way more twisted things in my modern art history class. Hell, almost every animal photographed before the early 1900s was stuffed since exposures could take as long as eight hours, and very few animals will sit still that long.
The post title itself is a reference to something I picked up in art history class too. The Memento Mori (Latin for a “reminder of death”) was a popular trope amongst Medieval and Renaissance artists. They would often include skeletons or a Grim Reaper in their paintings as a symbol of the inevitability of death. The term kept going through my mind as I posed the butterfly body on the dead flower, so I decided it was a fitting title.
So, there you go, in case awesome photos aren’t enough reason to come to the site, I now have lessons on insect biology and art history. What do you guys think; is the photo a bit too morbid, or is it permissible in this case for the creation of art? Let me know in the comments below.