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Milan Rai: The Butterfly Effect of Art

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Nuggets From Milan Rai's Call

Last Saturday, we had the privilege of hosting Awakin Call with Milan Rai.

Milan Rai is a self-taught Nepalese contemporary visual artist whose work is grounded in a personal response to the world around him. A moment of serendipity set him on his path. Inspired by a butterfly that alighted on his paintbrush in the middle of a challenging project in 2013, Milan began cutting out simple white butterfly shapes from paper and thoughtfully arranging and affixing them to trees, bridge pillars, walls, and dilapidated buildings in his hometown of Kathmandu -- aiming to make art accessible to everyone and not to limit it within the walls of galleries. His signature work, the White Butterfly, has invited interaction in more than 40 different countries across the globe. “What truly inspires me is the unfathomable depth of creative resurrection and metamorphosis that human beings are capable of...My handmade cutouts of white butterflies remind people of the essentially simple things in life that we tend to forget."

We'll post the transcript of the call soon, but till then, some of the nuggets that stood out from the call ...

  • At that point I decided not to exhibit my work in galleries. Not everyone can come to a gallery. I wanted my art to reach the taxi driver the cab driver the newspaper seller. So if people don't come to galleries I decided I will take my work to them.
  • I was so wild. Whatever I wanted to express the canvas was to small for me.
  • Now my studio is wherever I go.
  • I talk to trees. People call me crazy, but what am I supposed to do when a tree communicates with me?
  • First I was trying to shock people with my art -- then I decided to just express myself and let go.
  • Make most of the intellect. Use it all but when it is time to take a decision, listen to the heart.
  • Every night I stare at the night sky before going to sleep. That's my home. I realize that I'm just a visitor here on earth; I'm on vacation from elsewhere. And it's important to make good memories while on vacation :)
  • I approach myself first before approaching other people and ask myself - do you really have the capacity to listen to this person right now?

Lots of gratitude to all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!

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