Flowers for the mind

Photo courtesy Anna Schuleit

tanka with kigo
By Annette Marie Hyder

hearts laid fallow long
in the dark years of the mind
then budded and bloomed

remembrances were not pressed
‘twixt pages, they lined halls, rooms

Flowers are blooming

Flowers are blooming everywhere here in Minnesota, a pleasure to eyes, nose and mind. Surrounded by such, I was delighted by the serendipity of coming across the following story about artist Anna Schuliet’s art installation “Bloom”.

Story via This is Colossal:

2003 a building housing the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (MMHC)
was slated for demolition to make way for updated facilities. The
closure was a time for reflection and remembrance as the MMHC had been
in operation for over 9 decades and had touched countless thousands of
patients and employees alike, and the pending demolition presented a
unique problem. How does one memorialize a building impossibly rich with
a history of both hope and sadness, and do it in a way that reflects
not only the past but also the future? And could this memorial be open
to the public, not as a speech, or series of informational plaques, but
as an experience worthy of they building’s unique story?

answer that question artist Anna Schuleit was commissioned to do the
impossible. After an initial tour of the facility she was struck not
with what she saw but with what she didn’t see: the presence of life and
color. While historically a place of healing, the drab interior, worn
hallways, and dull paint needed a respectful infusion of hope. With a
limited budget and only three months of planning Schuleit and an
enormous team of volunteers executed a massive public art installation
called Bloom. The concept was simple but absolutely immense in scale.
Nearly 28,000 potted flowers would fill almost every square foot of the
MMHC including corridors, stairwells, offices and even a swimming pool,
all of it brought to life with a sea of blooms. The public was then
invited for a limited 4-day viewing as a time for needed reflection and

Perhaps no single installation or piece of art seen on
Colossal has touched me more deeply than Bloom. After learning about it
for the first time a few weeks ago I decided to reach out to Anna and
ask if she might be willing to share some photos and information about
the genesis and execution of such an incredible installation. What
follows is a brief Q/A I had with Anna the and a number of high-resolution
photos that have never been shared before online.

Here is a link to the full story and the never-before-shared photos:
Bloom: 28,000 Potted Flowers Installed at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center

The story includes comments from visitors to the installation. I especially liked the observation on the sod in the basement made by an anonymous visitor who remarked, “My therapist’s office was in the basement and the floor is covered
in grass. Grass does not bloom but it cushions and it is in the right
place. It is the foundation, it softens everything. Conceptually it is

Other links of interest
Scientist Discover ‘Switch’ in Plants to Create Flowers
Anna Schuleit
Art in Bloom 2012