More than 10,000 flowers grown in Toledo — entwined with another 140,000 preserved plants from the London artist’s previous installations around the world — will be suspended upside-down from the ceiling, welcoming visitors to celebrate the earth’s offerings, at Rebecca Louise Law: Community.
The time-sensitive installation, which opens Saturday in the museum’s Canaday Gallery, is being installed this week by Law’s team, along with volunteers from the community who are logging more than 1,600 hours stringing local blooms on wire.
Law, 37, who arrived in Toledo in late May, says her work connects nature and humanity and is symbolic of the location or culture in which the exhibition is being shown.
“I really wanted the work to be, literally, the hands of Toledo, as well as the material of Toledo, combined with me and my work,” Law said from her London home.
Several free events are scheduled in relation to Rebecca Louise Law: Community. For more information, go to toledomuseum.org.
• 2 p.m. Saturday: Rebecca Louise Law in conversation with Halona Norton-Westbrook, Peristyle
• 2 p.m. June 23: Black Swamp Conservancy: Rob Krain and Melanie Coulter on Land Stewardship
• 9:15 p.m. June 29: Films in the Great Outdoors: Moonrise Kingdom (2012, 94 minutes), TMA grounds
• 9:15 p.m., July 13: Films in the Great Outdoors: Microcosmos (1996, 72 minutes), TMA grounds
• 2 p.m. July 14: Toledo Naturalists Association: Eric Durbinon Toledo’s Secret Garden: Wild Orchids of the Oak Openings, Little Theater
• 5:30 p.m. July 17: Art Book Club discussion: A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman, Art Reference Library, registration required, 419-254-5770
• 2 p.m. July 21: Ryan P. Walsh, Ph.D., Toledo Zoo’s Wild Toledo Urban Prairie and Butterfly Initiatives, Little Theater
At Brodbeck Greenhouse in South Toledo, rows and rows of zinnias, lantanas, cosmos, euphorbia, and angelonia have been growing for months, revealing blooms of pink, yellow, red, orange, and purple when Law visited the greenhouse upon her arrival in the states.
Those blooms are being cut and strung in the museum’s Green Room. Pinecones, flowers, and other plants gathered by museum groundsmen will also be part of the installation. They are being interwoven with Law’s entire private collection of dried flora, which includes about 520,000 individual dried and live flowers and plant elements from 20 past installations, according to TMA spokesman Stephanie Elton.
Each day, after the volunteers help with the blooms, they are given the plants from which the flowers were taken to replant in their communities, Elton said.
The fresh blooms go through an air-drying process that suspends them in a state between fresh and dried, Law said. The artist dries them further after each show to ensure they last indefinitely.
Halona Norton-Westbrook, director of curatorial affairs at the museum and the show’s curator, saw some of Law’s work in London and invited the artist to visit the Toledo museum last year.
“Community is at the heart of the idea of this exhibition. [Law] noticed when she visited here that the sense of community was so strong, and she wanted to celebrate that,” she said. “A deep respect for nature and an ethos of preservation permeates all of the work that Law creates.”
Law, who came to Toledo in October to see the museum and visit with officials, said she was fascinated by some of the stories behind what the museum has provided for the Toledo community over the years, including how the community came together in the early 1930s to build Florence Scott Libbey’s dream for a concert hall, the Peristyle.
“I found that (TMA) is one of the most inclusive art museums I have ever seen. It’s about making art accessible, which I found fascinating,” Law said.
Her story as an artist began when she was a little girl, when she was encouraged by family members to pursue her obsessions with flowers and color.
While studying fine art at Newcastle University, Law was drawn to 3D and the boundaries between painting and sculpture.
“I started feeling like I wanted to get beyond the 2D, beyond the drawing and beyond the painting, and create installations that were a fully immersive experience with nature — and not just be a spectator, but be a participant,” Law said of her work.
She recently released the book Life in Death, which documents her early experiments and more recent installations.
Her time-based installations have been shown worldwide, including in Athens; Berlin, Germany; Times Square in New York, and San Francisco.
In Melbourne, The Canopy — a permanent, inverted landscape of more than 150,000 preserved flowers — hangs from the ceiling at a mall.
Toledo’s show is exclusive to the community and is Law’s biggest installation to date. The show is free to members, $10 for non-members, $7 for seniors, military members and college students, and $5 for kids 5-17. Community will be on view through Jan. 13.
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