Penticton artist Renee Matheson is turning pill caps, empty vials and other items of medical waste into art for the Penticton Regional Hospital. (Karissa Gall/Black Press Media)

Artist will use medical waste, resin to create upcycled butterfly mosaic

Artist Renee Matheson says the butterfly symbolizes “life and death and all the things in between”

Penticton Regional Hospital staff have collected hundreds of pill bottle caps and other medical waste that a local artist is transforming into something beautiful.

Under the PRH arts program, artist Renee Matheson is using the bottle caps, empty vials and tubes along with colourful resin to make a framed mosaic over the next few months.

The vials and tubes will be filled with resin before being placed in the frame. Acrylic, painted butterflies will float in the frame as well.

Why butterfly? Matheson said she chose the colourful winged creatures as the central theme for the project because they symbolize “life and death and all the things in between.”

“I did a multimedia piece about eight years ago that was based on the butterfly,” she said. “It was for a healing centre and I feel that it’s a really good image for people to be able to feel good feelings.

“Whether they’re dying or whether they’re birthing or they’re going through their own personal transformation, the butterfly represents all of that.”

Related: Local artists launch factory for creativity

Matheson has also been working with recycled glass for some time, picking up blown and stained glass pieces that nobody else seemed to want.

She said it started when she saw some “beautiful pieces” being discarded by glass blowers at Vancouver’s Granville Island Public Market. She asked if she could have them and returned after hours with proper PPE to pick and choose her Mother Nature-friendly materials.

Now, Matheson is based in Naramata. The project, however, will take place at her Penticton studio, the Matheson & Grove Fine Art Gallery at 205 Martin St.

People will have the opportunity to place some of the pieces into the frame by making a donation to help cover the cost of the resin.

“A part of you – your energy – becomes a part of the art,” Matheson said of the participatory project. “It’s really exciting.”

To assist in the project, contact Matheson at 250-488-4999 or email her at

Monetary donations can also be made through the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. Call 250-492-9027 for more information.

Once complete, the work will adorn the new wing of PRH.

Matheson will also be creating a multimedia piece under the same butterfly subject for the lobby of the PRH hospice.

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