28,000 Pots of Flowers

By April 3, 2012Blog

For four days
in November of 2003
, the Massachusetts Mental Health Center
was in bloom. Artist Anna Schuleit created a living memorial project to mark the closing of the historic building. Noting that psychiatric patients are rarely brought flowers, Schuleit used old hospital records to calculate how many people had passed through the facility since it opened in 1912 and decided to commemorate each one with a pot of flowers (“bringing together all the flowers they had never been given.”)

What was once a place of healing and confinement was transformed into a place of fantasy and delirium. When the four days were over, the plants were distributed to patients in care homes throughout the region.

I have fallen in love with Schuleit’s site specific work, which in the past has incorporated everything from ringing telephones to wild ducks. With Bloom, I love the way a space can be transfigured so simply, how pots of pert orange tulips can bring a new feeling tone to a dingy office, how a river of white mums or African violets can infuse a bleak institutional hallway with fragrant dreams. I love the way art can entirely disarrange a familiar setting, make it strange and incomprehensible.