Written by Jessica Shelburne
Olin Gallery director Talia Logan said that she wants to incorporate art into the community, and the community into art.
The Paper Blooms Project, which opened in the Olin Gallery today, and will be open to the public until March 30, embodies that idea perfectly, engulfing the gallery in thousands of flowers handmade from crepe paper.
Logan said that she has been working on this project for over two years with high hopes to provide the RC campus and the surrounding community with an exhibition that highlights growth, beauty and artistry between the entire community.
There is a vast diversity among the handmade flowers, as they have been constructed from a multitude of materials, making some of them look abstract and fantastical, while others appear eerily realistic. A wide variety of flower types and species are represented–from bulbs and tropicals to Virginia natives and a rose garden. Overall, there have been over 5,300 flowers crafted by volunteers from the Salem community, RC, and from local elementary, middle and high schools.
Next to the heaping displays of flowers perched on styrofoam platforms, there is a wall of clear vases adorned with white paper flowers that people have made and left, intended to represent a memorial commemorating lost loved ones.
Many of the ideas and details integrated into this exhibition stemmed from a former Olin Gallery display, called the Hyperbolic Coral Reef, where reef-like structures were crocheted and arranged to show the beauty of a clean reef and the repulsiveness of one that is polluted.
With the exhibition of the Paper Blooms Project, Logan and the rest of the RC Art Department hope to see the space utilized by the community and specifically students as a place to take a moment to breathe, reflect and simply exist. For people who may require additional motivation to experience the exhibit, there is a large amount of Red Rooster Coffee Roaster Swallowtail Tea provided at the gallery for the public to enjoy at their leisure.
“Once the exhibit concludes [in March], the flowers will be gathered into bouquets and sent back out to local hospitals,” Logan said. This type of genuine communal incorporation will not only continue to benefit others, but it will hopefully provide the RC Art Department with some well-deserved recognition for their hard work. Logan said that the best part about the project has been the workshops hosted where people enter with little pride in themselves as artists, and leave with a renewed sense of personal artistic ability.
There will be musical performances (including singers, instrumentalists, and dancers) upon the opening and closing of the exhibition, in addition to yoga, which will be held in the gallery from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in March until the exhibit is over.