In mid March I had the pleasure to visit San Francisco and the Bay Area for a few days. The de Young Museum, one of the museums in Golden Gate Park, has been hosting the annual Bouquets to Art exhibit for over 3 decades now. Not only has this exhibit been a major fundraiser for the municipal museums, but it also has proven a very effective means of, in the museum Director Max Hollein's words "engaging visitors in new, innovative ways outside and within our walls."
The premise of the exhibit is to invite over 100 floral designers from the Bay Area to choose a piece from the museum's permanent collection and to create a floral installation that resonates with that particular artwork. It was my first time to view such an exhibit, and having come from years of viewing the outstanding Sogetsu Ikebana exhibits in Tokyo, I did not come with any particular expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and sophistication of the designs, and the crowds of enthusiastic visitors testified to the success of this exhibit in achieving its mission of bringing a wider audience into the museum.
In addition to the double dose of inspiration from both the artwork and the floral designs, I also discovered a new artist whose work really resonated with me. Ruth Asawa was a mid-century Japanese-American artist known for her abstract wire sculptures and her public service and arts education activism in the Bay Area. I was struck by how her delicate woven wire sculptures exist in a space, not separate, but in conversation with their surroundings.
I was interested in it because of the economy of a line, making something in space, enclosing it without blocking it out. It’s still transparent. I realized that if I was going to make these forms, which interlock and interweave, it can only be done with a line because a line can go anywhere.
This principle of non-separation, of existing as part of an organic whole, is in my opinion one of the most beautiful principles of Ikebana.
I hope you enjoy a few pictures of some of my favorite pieces of the exhibit.
Lara Chho was raised as a global citizen, living all over the US and Africa as a child and youth, and living in Japan from 1998 and 2013 where she met her husband and raised her 3 children. She has been exploring clay since 1992 and flowers since 2006. She is passionate about using the arts as a means for self-discovery and for building community.