We asked artist Josh M.G. Yates about his mesmerizing series of work, Monarch Mandala, which we are delighted to be featuring in The 500 Project. This is what he shared with us:

"The genesis of this series sprang from several different sources. Initially, I sought after any information I could find on 'monarch programming,' the supposed continuation of the now long-defunct MKUltra Project. Project MKUltra was conducted by the CIA in the1950s and 60s throughout the United States in colleges, universities, hospitals, prisons and pharmaceutical companies using “front organizations.” Their goal was the complete manipulation of the subject’s mental state and brain function through the determination and the subsequent deterioration of every aspect that constituted the subject’s sense of self.

The image of the monarch butterfly denotes a relationship in monarch programming between the handler (the controller) and the slave (the controlled). The monarch butterfly also features prominently in the entertainment industry and continues to have connotations of brainwashing and mind control.

Further on, I delved into the work of Carl Jung on “The Self,” a psychological concept that involves the unification of an individual’s consciousness and sub-consciousness. Jung employed a mandala in his studies of the self: a black dot in the center, which represented the ego and a ring around it that represented the total personality. A sense of wholeness is signified by the total personality, which incorporates the individual’s ego, the consciousness and the unconscious. My concept of incorporating the monarch butterfly into the mandala is a means of sabotaging this wholeness of the self.

Monarch Mandala is a series born of interlaced dialogues, empirical data awash with the Internet’s deeper recesses of conspiracy theory and hyperbole."

See more of the Monarchs below.