Neighborhood Works Boise / by Susan Madacsi

This summer I was invited to design and install outdoor sculptures in a contemporary Garden City neighborhood. The project was in collaboration with Neighborhood Works Boise, a national non-profit organization whose mission is to lead in creating innovative housing solutions that contribute to building stronger communities. 

I wanted to create a unique artwork that integrated nicely within the pocket neighborhood located on North Adams Street. Something that worked well with the landscape and also offered a sense of place in the community. I felt it was important to honor the historical contribution of the Chinese community who made Garden City their home during the mining boom in Idaho in the late 1800s. Garden City was named for gardens raised by Chinese immigrants who lived in the area.

The stylized red butterflies are a traditional craft of the Chinese. Butterflies, flowers and other natural forms were cut and hung in windows and doors to symbolize happiness and luck. The other stylized forms represent wind and air.

The art of paper-cutting in China may date back to the second century C.E., since paper was invented by Cai Lun in the Eastern Han Dynasty in China. As paper became more affordable, paper-cutting became one of the most important types of Chinese folk art. Later, this art form spread to other parts of the world, with different regions adopting their own cultural styles. (