At Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., we strive to remain aligned with our core values as well as the City and their stance on anti-censorship of arts and culture programming. After the scheduled artists talks and concerns expressed at recent community meetings regarding the piece “Death of a Caterpillar” by D’Andre Brooks, we have come to the conclusion that the intent of this artist’s work does not translate in the public space as he initially hoped, rendering it unviable as public art. The installation is being removed as of 2 pm on November 18, 2019.
Born and raised in Atlanta’s Westside, D’Andre Brooks is an African American artist who analyzes how the subversion of symbolism, and the language of anger, pain, and outrage can be catalyzed to heal social and racial divides. He received a BFA from Georgia Southern University and an MA from SCAD-Atlanta. Brooks is a staunch believer that the artists must preserve cultural and community histories and uplift the richness of that culture. He is a practicing artist as well as a conservator.
His statement is that the cocoon is a powerful symbol of potential and hope, yet at human scale it becomes a sobering nod to the indelible scar left by lynching in the South. Undermining the implications of the installation’s forms, the cocoon is the representation of potential, change, and growth– the transition into a new life and new thought process as a butterfly. While the unseen caterpillar represents any negative, bigoted, or narrow-minded thoughts and ideology that are preventing racial harmony, the implied butterfly is acknowledgment, acceptance, and hope. The cocoon is the metamorphosis. Despite its past, the caterpillar is flourishing and becoming beautiful. The installation is a vessel for personal growth, community outreach, and an address to social nuances that ultimately prevent change.