Flowers In Bloom At Cornell Museum With ‘Flora’ Exhibit

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By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor

Walk through a field of fabric flowers, check out a 1950s ink drawing by Andy Warhol that lacks the crazy colors he is known for and get a feel for spring when you visit the Cornell Museum’s newest exhibition: Flora.

Named after the Roman goddess of nature and flowers, “Flora” showcases the works of about 30 contemporary artists who work with flower and fauna concepts.

“I wanted to do a lighthearted beautiful show for the spring and summer,” said Melanie Johanson, curator of the Cornell. “There’s so much artwork that is inspired by plants and flowers, in so many different ways. It was a fun one to curate, but also difficult as so many artists do take inspiration from these things.”

Johnson said she came up with the idea for the exhibit after listening to a podcast that featured an interview with a London artist who worked with dried flowers to create large installations.

This show is not just paintings of flowers on walls. There are installation pieces and all types of mediums in the exhibit. There are pieces featuring cut paper, surfboards, Swarovski crystal, dyed ficus leaves and even live orchids.

“I didn’t just want the usual paintings of flowers,” Johnson said. “I do have some paintings in the show, but they’re not the usual. Some have gold leaf, some are hyper-realistic, some are very geometric and stylized and some are actually abstract.”

Toronto-based artist Amanda McCavour created a “Hanging Garden” of more than 1,000 embroidered flowers where you can walk through a field of flowers dangling from the ceiling.

McCavour said she has shown the flowers in different exhibits about eight or nine times, but this time the exhibit is the largest it has been.

She has been working on the flowers since 2011. Creating one bloom can take anywhere from two to four hours, she said.

“This could always get bigger,” she said as she adjusted the flowers before the exhibit opened. “I wanted it to feel big and immersive.”

Flora fills up nearly the entire museum space. Two of the six galleries will feature installation pieces and the other four will contain wall works and sculptures.

As you enter the museum, you are greeted by upside down dangling dandelions and their puffs will be blown off the wall leading up the stairs.  The piece was created by Lake Worth artist Hayley Sheldon.

Artists Diane Arrieta and Cheryl Maeder created an “Enchanted Forest” installation, which will take up one whole gallery and feature film, photography, sculpture and sound.

Feeling glitzy? Mixed-media artist Stephen Wilson repurposes boxes emblazoned with luxury brand logos—Hermes, Gucci and more and covers them with three-dimensional embroidered flowers and splattered, forest-green paint.

“With all the depressing stuff in the news, I gravitate towards more light and hopeful pieces with flowers and butterflies,” Wilson said. “I want this new series to be more uplifting; people need a break from reality.”

Flora will be on display through Sept. 9.

Museum hours are Tuesday- Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Closed Mondays and holidays. Admission is $8 (general); $5 (seniors 65+ and students with ID); free admission for children under 12, Old School Square members and Veterans; free admission for Florida residents on Sunday. The Museum is located on the Old School Square campus at 51 N. Swinton Ave.