This may surprise some folks but it wasn’t until recently (like the past year recently) that I looked at the flower arrangements and event décor I create as art. I said this over coffee to someone last week & I thought her jaw was going to hit the floor…it kind of did actually.
I went to Massachusetts College of Art with the intention of being a graphic designer and ended up in the Studio for Interrelated Media department. What is SIM? A common question. Find out a bit more HERE.
For years I would make florals for birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions, just because, & of course weddings. I have been a part of some of the biggest days in people’s lives. I have designed product launches, property launches, fundraising galas, groundbreaking events and holiday celebrations. I’ve created bouquets for bridal magazines, home & lifestyle publications, movies and television shows. All of this time I have looked at it as a job. Something I could do, that I was fairly good at, and it paid the bills… all the while longing to make art.
What I didn’t realize is that I was creating something special & actually making art. My medium wasn’t paint, photography, clay or metal… it is flowers.
A few years ago I went to Haystack Mountain School of Arts & Crafts on a Mass Art Alum retreat. A lot of things came out of that trip and I have gone back every fall since then. But one thing in particular came out of that first experience. I met Harris Barron, the man who founded the SIM department at Mass Art. He was no longer teaching when I entered the program so this was my first time meeting him.
We sat on the deck one afternoon and had a conversation that later I would realize was the beginning of a shift in how I viewed the work I do everyday.
That afternoon he was complementing my portfolio of floral work and I shrugged it off. At the time I was looking for a way to make less florals and more art. When I expressed this to him he said to me ‘you are making art.’ He went on to explain if I was to take one of the bamboo structures I had a photograph of in my portfolio and I put that in the middle of Huntington Avenue instead of in a hotel ballroom it would be viewed as an installation instead of event décor. So, you see it is all in how something is viewed and the experience of the viewer.
It took me some time, and a lot of recalibrating to get to the point where I could see this. This past year was one of change for me and I have fully embraced this concept and that conversation I had with Harris that day.
In December 2011 I participated in my very first open studios event. It was the first time I was showing any work in this type of setting. When the last installation was complete I stepped back and looked and for the first time I saw with clarity what Harris had meant that day. My installations had become more organic and my event décor had become more sculptural. The two were finally converging and at that moment I was pleased with the results all around.
The décor I design for events has evolved to include larger scale structures and pieces that utilize textural elements such as tree bark, bamboo poles and other organic items to create landscapes in lieu of traditional event decor.
After Jessica’s jaw dropped she said to me she’s always seen the bouquets I’ve created as art. I went into the studio that day and created the ‘handmade Quade’ bQ. a floral arrangement that is part sculpture… pure JOY! with hand felted flower pods tucked amongst the fresh blooms. I wish she lived closer so I could hand deliver one and thank her. If it were not for the inspiring people in my life I would not be able to create the amazing things I do.
Enjoy this photo gallery of the December Open Studio, a few photos from Haystack 2011 & a couple of ‘handmade Quade’ bQ.’s that have found loving homes…