On The Wings Of Butterflies: How art helped the community of Joplin recover from devastation

I hope that people who visit will learn of the strength within my community in the face of disaster.

If you are experiencing emotional distress or other mental health concerns after a disaster, the Disaster Distress Helpline is here for you 24/7/365.


For Deaf and Hard of Hearing ASL Callers: To connect directly to an agent in American Sign Language, Click the “ASL Now” button below or call 1-800-985-5990 from your videophone. ASL Support is available 24/7.

The May 22 tornado that hit Joplin, Mississippi was the costliest in U.S. history—damaging 40% of the city and destroying 20% of it, including 7,000 homes. More than 1,100 people were injured, and 161 lost their lives. Those who survived faced a long road to healing, and art played a critical role in that process. After the storm, many local children said they’d been protected by “butterfly people” during the tornado—and the idea permeated new art throughout the city. Two local artists created a free-standing mural of an enormous butterfly to symbolize the rebirth of their city.