Music frequently influences Butler’s work. Sharing studio space with her hip-hop DJ husband makes music a regular part of her creative space. They have, in fact, collaborated on mixtapes corresponding with her exhibitions for the last few years. During the early pandemic, Nas’ song, The World Is Yours seemed particularly resonant. “It's a really positive song,” she explains, addressing the ills that plague city life while celebrating brotherhood, personhood, and empowerment. With her exhibition title, Butler wanted to remind people of “the beautiful sentiment that this world belongs to all of us. We have to treat each other well. We have to respect each other. And actually love our fellow human beings. Watching the news can feel pretty hopeless. But the power is within us to recreate or create our own reality. To not accept people telling us we don't have that power. We all do.”
In much of her previous work, Butler took inspiration from older photographs or daguerreotypes. The World Is Yours showcases a new body of work inspired by contemporary portraits from the late 20th and early 21st centuries. “During the pandemic,” Butler says, “I started reflecting on the world now instead of the world in the past. This was also the first time that I started interacting with photographers online.” The exhibition includes some of her first collaborative pieces―she worked with a number of contemporary photographers, including Gordon Parks and Janette Beckman.