My Flowers, My Self: Young Artists & Their Art Bloom BIG at the Flower Show!
During several bitter cold weeks in February, more than 2,600 K-12 students in Philadelphia, Camden and Norristown public schools took a deep dive into horticulture to make art for the 2022 Philadelphia Flower Show. The result is “Bloom Boom,” a major exhibition of 125 works of art, called out by the Philadelphia Inquirer as one of “Five not-to-miss Experiences” at the 2022 Flower Show.
“Completely brilliant! I am astonished by the talent and innovative interpretations of hundreds of garden flowers by such young children! They must have absolutely adored this project!"
commented Paul Epsom, former host of The Victory Garden on PBS and current owner of Greystone Gardens in Clarks Summit.
To create the exhibition, Fresh Artists, an art-based nonprofit in East Falls, challenged kids to explore what it means to BLOOM, as a metaphor for emerging from 2 challenging and isolating years of Covid, to BLOOM AGAIN to be the very best version of ourselves, as flowers do at their most outstanding and beautiful moment. Through their art teachers, students responded to one of four project challenges:
Project #1 -- Design an imaginary hybrid “Philly Phlower” by studying the purpose and parts of a flower and add a special super-power to right a world wrong.
Project #2 – Explore the “Sneaky Language of Flowers” popular in the Victorian era that assigned directions, meanings, actions and emotions to specific flowers.
Project #3 -- “Throughout the Bloomin’ World,” is a nod to the cultural diversity of Philadelphia’s public school families who speak 169 languages and dialects. Choose a country, learn about its natural botany, and paint a scene that celebrates that climate and topography.
Project #4 --“If I Were a Flower, Here’s How I Would Bloom”- choose a flower and make a formal portrait of it as the way you see yourself or the way you wish others would see you.
While introducing the overall program to the art teachers who signed up, a group of art teachers in self-contained, Individualized Education Program classrooms asked if we would create a project especially for their students. They sadly told us, “Our kids are hardly ever chosen for opportunities like this.” They posited if they had their own adaptable design brief, their students could engage and execute it in myriad creative ways.
Hence Project #5 was added and dubbed “Petal Pops.” Inspired by the iconic flower faces of 1960s Marimekko fabric, Fresh Artists’ Creative Director and Co-Founder, Roger Allen created nine different, bold flower templates for students to adapt, dissect, emblazon, or embellish in any way that caught their fancy. The Petal Pop Project was a big hit: 104 kids produced a Petal Pop flower and 52 were reproduced on light styrene substrate, heat-formed into 3D shapes and strewn over exhibition panels covered in luscious, preserved moss.
Teachers and students were invited to use Fresh Artists’ online gallery of 350 macro images donated by award-winning amateur and professional nature photographers in the Garden Club of America, National Geographics staff and the Academy of Natural Sciences.
All large-scale reproductions of children’s artwork, wallpaper, flashy dichroic film, signage and labels were produced on the Arizona, a state-of-the-art Canon wide-format digital printer.
Each student submitted an Artist’s Statement, explaining subject choice, inspiration, or message to convey to the public. The statements are available on their wall labels, along with the student’s first name, grade, school and name of their art teacher.
A few meaningful statements from our young artists...
"My flower is called superstar. It will give you lightning powers if you smells it."
"My flower's name is “Tiger Blue” and its healing power is to cure colds, fevers, and other common sicknesses."
"The flowers I chose symbolize inspiration, joy, and happiness. I designed it to lighten up someone’s spirit and to inspire them to do something if they are feeling unproductive. I think my painting is like a vanitas because it reminds people to find joy in life or to be inspired."
Bloom Boom Gallery Online
Every one of the 1,768 pieces of art submitted for Flower Show exhibition consideration can be viewed in the “Bloom Boom Gallery” on the websites of Fresh Artists, the School District of Philadelphia and Norristown Area School District until June 2023. This digital Art Gallery is easily QR accessible at the exhibition via a smart phone. Click here to view the Gallery!
Send a message to our kids!
The exhibition also has a QR Code Kiosk inviting all visitors to leave a message of encouragement to a specific child or to the entire ensemble. These messages will become part of the digital Art Gallery after the Park exhibition is over.
“We were thrilled that PHS placed Fresh Artists’ exhibition in such a prominent location ---it’s one of the first things people encounter as they enter the Flower Show,” remarked Fresh Artists founder and President Barbara Chandler Allen. “The reproductions of children’s artwork are enormous, strong, brilliant and meaningful - drawing people into the exhibition like a magnet. Most exhibit visitors are visibly moved when reading the children’s Artist’s Statements expressing their many challenges, losses, and achievements over the past two difficult years. The large art amplifies the children’s voices.”
Fresh Artists hopes to see you there! The Philadelphia Flower Show runs from now until June 19th, 2022 M-Su 10am-6pm located outdoors at FDR Park. Tickets are avaible here.
Help us spread the word!
"Bloom Boom" Press!!
The Inquirer | 6/11/22
The Philadelphia Tribune | 6/14/22
Thank you to our generous supporters for making "Bloom Boom" possible!
CHG Charitable Trust
The Nana Fund
Laura Pratt Gregg
Hadley & Dick Ferguson
Vert Charitable Trust
PROPAGATORS OF PROMISE
City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture & the Creative Economy
Rosenlund Family Foundation
Betsy & Baxter Holland
Primex Garden Center
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
SPECIAL GARDEN VOLUNTEERS
Robyn Miller & Les Cooperson