by Andrew Crisp
After the statue outside the Women's and Children's Alliance was vandalized in March, the gleaming bronze hand of the statue's main subject stood empty. A colorful metal butterfly was stolen from Taking Flight and later returned after Boise Police circulated security footage.
However, many have taken the empty space left in the butterfly's absence as an invitation to place flowers or blue-and-silver Pinwheels for Prevention of child abuse in her outstretched palm.
"I don't want to come off as in any way supporting vandalism," said Greg Hampikian. "But from the moment I saw the open hand, I loved it."
Hampikian created a Facebook group called Boise's Open Hand, an initiative to keep the space in the sculpture's palm free for the community to contribute to the piece.
"If the mother's upturned palm is left open, I imagine there will be all sorts of offerings, and maybe not all of it will please me, but I trust the artistic and compassionate nature of our town," he said.
Colleen Steinman, the WCA's communications manager, had yet to hear about the group, which currently features more than 180 members. She said the idea was interesting, reiterating that the butterfly is a powerful symbol of metamorphosis for the WCA.
"We certainly want to stay true to the intent behind the donation," said Steinman. "It was a very, very generous donation. The butterfly represents a great deal to us as an agency, and obviously, the community outpouring we had when it was missing was huge. But we definitely want to think about what it would mean."
Steinman said the Facebook group and the outcry after the butterfly's theft shows how deeply the community cares about the WCA's work.
"Most of all, I hope it will draw attention to the positive work of the WCA," added Hampikian.