Artist Honors Murdered Transgender Woman With Stunning Butterfly Wings

Rubem Robierb dedicated "Dandara," the latest in his "Dream Machine" series, to the "strength and bravery" of the trans and gender-nonconforming communities.
Artist Rubem Robierb is the creator of 鈥淒andara,鈥 a new sculpture that will be displayed at New York's Tribeca Park through May 2020.
Artist Rubem Robierb is the creator of 鈥淒andara,鈥 a new sculpture that will be displayed at New York's Tribeca Park through May 2020.
Noam Galai via Getty Images

鈥淩uPaul鈥檚 Drag Race鈥 veteran Peppermint and the ABC News鈥 Sam Champion were among the notables on hand to witness Monday鈥檚 unveiling of a breathtaking sculpture honoring the transgender and gender-nonconforming (GNC) community in New York.

Titled 鈥淒andara,鈥 the fiberglass sculpture resembles a pair of butterfly wings and will be displayed through May 4, 2020, in Manhattan鈥檚 Tribeca Park. The sculpture, which measures 13 feet long and 10 feet high, was created by Brazilian artist Rubem Robierb as part of his 鈥淒ream Machine鈥 series, honoring those who have 鈥渓ived or died fighting for their own dreams, or for the dream of others.鈥

鈥淚n tribute to the strength and bravery of the trans and GNC community, 鈥楧andara鈥 has an important message and meaning,鈥 Robierb, who has been married to Champion since 2012, told ABC. 鈥淚 felt that New York City was a place to showcase this on a public scale.鈥

Robierb with his husband, ABC News' Sam Champion.
Robierb with his husband, ABC News' Sam Champion.
Noam Galai via Getty Images

The sculpture takes its name from Dandara dos Santos, a transgender Brazilian woman who was beaten and killed in 2017. Brazil is considered to be one of the world鈥檚 most dangerous places for transgender people. Last year, the advocacy group Transgender Europe found 125 trans people in Brazil had been killed between January and the end of September, a global high.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 22 transgender or gender-nonconforming people have been killed so far this year in the U.S. Though it鈥檚 impossible to know an exact count, advocates tracked the killings of at least 26 trans and gender-nonconforming people in 2018.

The installation and ceremony were presented by Mastercard, which also donated $5,000 to GLAAD鈥檚 Transgender Media Program in honor of the occasion. Speaking at Monday鈥檚 event, Peppermint said she was 鈥渟o happy to be able to go back and redeem [dos Santos鈥橾 story,鈥 as seen in video footage of the event posted on social media.

"RuPaul's Drag Race" veteran Peppermint at Monday's dedication ceremony.
"RuPaul's Drag Race" veteran Peppermint at Monday's dedication ceremony.
Noam Galai via Getty Images

鈥淗opefully,鈥 she added, 鈥渢his will be the beginning of other queer people, trans people, trans young girls, and gender-nonconforming people, to have a space where they can come, and know that their dreams can be realized.鈥

In an emotional essay for Forbes, journalist Dawn Ennis said the 鈥淒andara鈥 unveiling was 鈥渁 perfect way for us to kick off November,鈥 which happens to be Transgender Awareness Month.

鈥淓ven though they were detached from my body, these wings lovingly crafted by Robierb鈥檚 hands felt as much a part of me in that moment as my own arms and legs,鈥 said Ennis, who is trans. 鈥淭hey were mine, as much as the changes I鈥檝e made to conform my body to match my authentic gender identity.鈥

鈥淭o my mind, they fit me better than anything I鈥檝e ever worn,鈥 she added.

Before You Go