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A Note on Whitman and Butterfly
by John Giannotti

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I approached then Camden mayor Randy Primas in 1989 and told him that I thought Camden should have a monument to Whitman. Because cost is such a great factor when considering a bronze sculpture, I told him that I would donate the work to the city and get funds from the Rutgers Research Council for materials. The city would then be responsible only for the casting in bronze. I completed the work in 1991 after ten months' work; it was displayed for a time in City Hall and was part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Whitman's death. Originally, the sculpture was meant to stand in the park next to the Walt Whitman House, but ultimately was placed in the Children's Garden at the New Jersey State Aquarium on the Camden waterfront. Two other bronzes of the work exist: one is at Soka University in Japan and the other at the Brassner Sculpture Garden in West Palm Beach, FL. The butterfly idea came from a photo of Whitman seated in a photographer's studio in Philadelphia. He was holding a papier mâché butterfly on his finger. In light of Whitman's love of nature and minutiae, I thought the delicate image was perfect for the sculpture. What else could he be holding, a cliché image of Leaves of Grass?