Spring Has Sprung
March 13, 2012 9:02 AM   Subscribe

In 2003 a building housing the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (MMHC) was slated for demolition to make way for updated facilities. Artist Anna Schuleit was commissioned to memorialize its rich history. Schuleit: The concept for Bloom came to me as a site-specific installation to mark the transition of the life and history of the institution toward its closure, from its physical state to the remembered with 28,000 potted flowering plants. More images available here.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (14 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
posted by sonika at 9:05 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by The Whelk at 9:19 AM on March 13, 2012

Thank you for this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:21 AM on March 13, 2012

...and the inmates? potted and memorialized too?
posted by Postroad at 9:28 AM on March 13, 2012

Is there any info on the budget for this thing? Seems like it would end up being a lot.

Glad to hear the flowers were put to good use after the installation: After four public days of “Bloom”, the building was closed for good and we delivered all twenty-eight thousand flowers to shelters, half-way houses, and psychiatric hospitals throughout New England—which is why I didn’t want to work with cut flowers.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:31 AM on March 13, 2012

I'm pretty sure I visited some friends who were working in that building. Those pictures are beautiful.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:32 AM on March 13, 2012

Glad to hear the flowers were put to good use after the installation

After this post went up I got an email from a Massachusetts social worker who told me she has a flower in her house that's a descendant from a plant she acquired from Bloom. That pretty much made my day.
posted by joinks at 9:39 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by WPW at 9:39 AM on March 13, 2012

...and the inmates? potted and memorialized too?

No, no. They were released into the wild to frolic and play under America's bridges and overpasses.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:42 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

That's amazing. I feel a good connection to it, since I spent some time in mental hospitals when I was younger. It's nice to see the healing going on there.
posted by shesaysgo at 10:08 AM on March 13, 2012

Absolutely stunning. Thanks for posting this.
posted by deadtrouble at 10:10 AM on March 13, 2012

Really moving--one of those powerful, simple ideas that have so much meaning because they give each of us room to bring our own interpretations, feelings and experiences to it.
posted by agatha_magatha at 10:56 AM on March 13, 2012

I had the pleasure of living with this lady on a 28 acre island in Boston Harbor when I was a park ranger back in '07. She was my neighbor in the next yurt over (there were only two yurts on the island) and is a really incredibly lovely person, constantly boiling over with ideas and insights. At the time she was our artist-in-residence, and was working on an installation proposal for the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, which as I remember it would have been intended to sort of defuse some of the energy of the huge Spanish-American War gun batteries that remain on the island. The proposal ended up being too ambitious for her backers, sadly. It was a wonderful idea involving huge mirrored contraptions out in the water just off the shore of the island.

She won her MacArthur fellowship the following Fall, and I got to help out with the project she did then, which scattered old telephones throughout a darkened forest (marked only by small lights, barely visible from any distance) and connected them to a switchboard room that was manned by volunteers. People could go out along the paths or into the woods and pick up a phone (after finding one -- some of them were tricky to find) at which point someone in the switchboard room would connect you to a random stranger and you could chat for as long as you liked. It was sublime and lasted for just one night, as far as I know.

She's a really wonderful person and deserves to get lots and lots of attention and lots and lots of money for her work.
posted by Scientist at 11:08 AM on March 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

Those are some great photographs. Thanks for the background, too, Sci'
posted by Lukenlogs at 1:36 PM on March 13, 2012

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