The way humans treat butterflies is like the way we get along with nature. Only after we integrate nature into our everyday culture day after day, transform our body and soul, and change our behaviors, can we see the future of Taiwan’s lacquer art in dancing butterflies.
Cultural and creative designs that ceaselessly emphasize their connections with local cultures are mostly derived from and then reinterpret traditional folk totems, or indigenous products’ styles, colors, and patterns. From which angle to design and transform Taiwan’s butterfly culture into crafts that are both practical and beautiful requires us to re-examine the values of the butterfly culture. Also, our concern for the ecosystem and ways to effectively employ local resources, craft materials, and manners of expression cannot be overlooked.
Just like he expression “seeing the whole from only a part”, the lacquer workshop hosted by the Technique Division of the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute (NTCRI) was like butterflies flying out. It covers teaching outside of NTCRI; cooperating with the local governments to host courses to expand the number of people practicing lacquer art; connecting the development of the sightseeing industry with local ecological butterfly culture; expanding to other countries in the world; and collaborating Taiwanese lacquer art with designers from Europe and Japan to research and develop new products. Also, experts from countries with lacquer art cultures in Southeast Asia, such as Myanmar and Vietnam, were invited to Taiwan for technology exchange. As utensil design progresses, Taiwan lacquer art is also transformed into a component of the mixed-media that is indispensable in contemporary art creation, becoming sturdy objects in daily life that can be passed down to later generations.
Butterflies dance, giving a sense of lightness and agility, expressing a kind of life that has experienced suffering, struggled, matured, and become at ease. Just as butterflies undergo the difficult situation in cocoons and metamorphose into butterflies, so the lacquer industry is desperately in need of transformation and revival. Employing traditional lacquer techniques to lay the foundation of a work requires numerous processes of applying lacquer, scrubbing, and polishing with the rubbing of palms. The lacquer painted on the object at first has a rather dull color. As time goes by, the colors become brighter and richer. During the repeated process of production, which is effort-consuming, a connection is formed between each utensil and its producer. It also makes us wonder: When humans choose to manufacture products with fast, industrialized processes, how significant is the impact on the ecosystem? Through lacquer work, we learn a spirit of loving and cherishing objects, and deeply feel how natural and warm the moon-like glow emitted by lacquer works is .