David Nosanchuk (USA)


Artist’s statement

Butterfly Asteroid is the story of the transcendence of nature depicted through the meeting of the Limenitis arthemis butterfly and the Itokawa asteroid (25143). At first glance, we may consider mainly the clear contrast in size, scale, and life form between these two things; however, in fact, they share a long narrative. The asteroid and the butterfly are characterized by flight, and while the life histories of these objects differ, their patterns of flight are both the result of a metamorphosis—the asteroid, the oldest remnant dislodged in the making of our solar system, and the butterfly, from caterpillar to a fine armature engineered for levitation. These subjects also have a known repeated journey in space and time, the butterfly with its annual migration and the asteroid with its predicable orbit.

The materials used to make the butterfly and the asteroid also carry a story of transformation. The wings are made from quarter-sawed steamed beech veneer, selected for its warm, pinkish tone and rice-size, cinnamon-colored grain. Starting at twenty thousandth of an inch thick, the fine relief is a product of laser engraving on both sides, reducing the veneer to the state of translucency. Backlit by the asteroid, the glowing beech grain reinvents itself as a luminous wing. The butterflies’ solid bronze bodies, a product of a series of steps, starting with 3-D scanning of a real Limenitis arthemis body and ending with a traditional lost wax technique, hold the fine wings and connect to the asteroid. Here, the bronze’s strength, detail, and color, realized through the craft of its maker, yields a body of one to one scale, remaking nature's fine structure in metal permanence. In order to maintain the exact to-scale model of Itokawa (25143), fiberglass was placed in square patches over Styrofoam, sculpted by a CNC router from a 3-D scan of the asteroid. The foam removed, the light inside the remaining thin asteroid shell penetrates the built-up layers of fibers, illuminating the cracks, crevices, and craters disseminated by the fibers, rendering a glowing cosmic moon.

Butterfly Asteroid results from a hybrid of digital- and handcrafted techniques. As the rise of the Internet revolution made the world “flat” and connected us, the advance of digital capturing and making tools has made the world “vertical” and returned us to an era of the “master builder,” where the author can have a more direct influence on the design-build process. The fluidity of the digital design to production methods can yield singular products of the finest scale and detail not otherwise possible through the time and cost of traditional fabrication techniques. While the new era of design gives the author more artistic license, it is the makers that define the ultimate craft, with both a knowledge of new machinery and production as well as traditional making methods passed down over generations. It is the marriage of the new craft and the old craft that defines Butterfly Asteroid.




Born in 1969, David Nosanchuk is an inspired American designer based in New York City. His early studies at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan’s historic arts community, taught him the methods and traditions of modern design that continue to inform his process.

Nosanchuk earned a degree in art history at the University of Michigan, moving to Los Angeles shortly thereafter to pursue a master’s of architecture at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. In Los Angeles, Nosanchuk became a master woodworker, designing and constructing furniture and eventually teaching furniture fabrication.

In 2000, Nosanchuk launched his first furniture and lighting collection at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. In 2012, an iteration of the lamp was permanently installed on the Cranbrook campus; Nosanchuk has been commissioned to design more unique decorative elements for the school. His current work has been shown and collected in museums including the Triennale di Milano, Les Arts Décoratifs, the Cooper Hewitt, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Museum of Arts and Design.