Didomenico Studio

Veil, 2008-2012

A butterfly wing is a veil made of tiny solar panels, colorful scales of iridescent dust tipping automatically in the sunlight. “Wingcloth” is made of butterfly wings held still in a protective layer of mica, a transparent veil of rock, strong and fragile, revealing and concealing simultaneously. The butterflies I have used have all been raised on farms. Because of these butterfly farms , there is actually an increase in butterfly populations, as well as an alternative industry to the devastation of the primary rainforests (see article). By enclosing butterfly wings inside mica, I have created a magnified version of the minute scales, revealing what the human eye sees in fleeting transitory moments, into a sustained complete vision. The mica acts as a protective lens, keeping the wing from disintegration. In this way, I hope to provide a peek behind the veil, behind the seemingly insignificant and fragile beauty of a tiny creature into a powerful vibration of color.

The veil is a metaphor for a work of art, a curtain that creates ripples in the dance between perception and reality. It’s a delicate screen that unfolds its own symbolic language. A curtain rising from the stage of life, revealing only parts at a time, a veneer hiding deeper metaphysical questions. Maybe we perceive in tiny bits of information because otherwise so much beauty would knock us over. Like the French poet, Paul Valery, who wrote, “ Man’s great misfortune is that he has no organ, no kind of eyelid or brake, to mask or block a thought, or all thought, when he wants to.” It seems we need to be able to temporarily turn off the bombardment of stimuli, in order to reemerge with new eyes.

My veil acts as a kind of magic cloak, gathering fields of color ever present in nature, reinventing and re-issuing them into a penetrating kaleidoscope. When a common, more comfortable filter is allowed to widen, a universal truth, or a band of possible truths may emerge, moving to a language that has been pulsating under everyone’s eyelids.

Rebecca DiDomenico

Visible and Invisible Spaces a traveling exhibition about veiling

 Visible and Invisible Spaces will be an exhibition of twenty-five to thirty works of art, each of which considers The Veil, its many manifestations and interpretations.  

Visible and Invisible Spaces intends to engage received wisdom about the veil – particularly current clichés and stereotypes about Islamic practices – and to reflect on the great ubiquity and profundity of the veil throughout human history and imagination. Visible and Invisible Spaces asks artists to investigate the veil in its broadest contexts. The exhibition will be divided into three categories, to be interpreted widely: The Sacred Veil, The Sensuous Veil, and The Sociopolitical Veil.  Visible and Invisible Spaces, however, is not a documentary exhibition, though it may feature artful photojournalism, as interludes or markers.

 Visible and Invisible Spaces is a visual companion to Jennifer Heath’s edited volume, The Veil: Women Writers on Its History, Lore, and Politics (University of California Press, forthcoming 2007).   The exhibition, Visible and Invisible Spaces, invites visual artists – including videographers, filmmakers and new media artists, as well as painters, sculptors, performance and installation artists – from around the world to investigate and re-vision the veil.  

The veil is infinitely visual, yet it is also a means of concealment.  The veil is itself mystery, even as it is the shroud that guards the mystery. Veiling is found everywhere and begins in Nature – such as eclipses and the periodic shedding of animals’ outer bodily layer (feathers, skin, fur or horn) before re-growth. As much as the veil is fabric or a garment, the veil is also a concept. Veils are illusion, divination, vanity, artifice, clothing, deception, curtains, magic, alchemy and transformation, dream, euphemism and metaphor, depression, hallucination, masquerade, beauty, eloquent silence, holiness, birth, liberation, imprisonment.  Veils are the ethers beyond consciousness, the hidden hundredth name of god, the final passage into death, even the biblical apocalypse – the lifting of god’s veil to signal the “end times.” 

 To be veiled is, to some degree, to be unseen, the condition of both great attraction and repulsion. The artists featured in Visible and Invisible Spaces will speak to these myriad aspects of the veil and more.

 Visible and Invisible Spaces will begin traveling in 2008. 

Jennifer Heath


Editor, The Veil: Women Writers on Its History, Lore, and Politics (University of California Press, forthcoming, 2007)

January 2007