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Flowers are the focus of a new, climate-centered textile exhibit in Lower Manhattan.
The exhibit is curated by Kendal Henry and runs at Brookfield Place (home to Bottega Veneta, Gucci and more) from Monday to Sept. 14. Titled “Flower Atlas” by artist Miya Ando, the work reimagines an alternative view of time itself, depicting 365 signature flowers across chiffon fabric runners in bloom each day on Earth.
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“Flower Atlas” is made possible by the Brookfield Place Annual Arts Commission, which Ando received in 2023 for her diligence in highlighting the consequences of climate change. Having been raised in a Buddhist temple in Japan, Ando told WWD she’s always maintained a curiosity and interest in native understandings. Her work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at the Asia Society Museum and The Noguchi Museum, among others.
The exhibit, she said, is meant to evoke a “floating sky garden up above” and “a rainbow symphony of flowers.”
Ando finds inspiration for most of her work between nature and Eastern and Western cultures. Her works often contain nuanced and literary Japanese words naming and describing the varied qualities of moonlight, rain, clouds or other elements. Here, “Flower Atlas” comes from the Japanese Kõ calendar, which is an observation-based system of time-keeping. Time is kept by visual events such as “fish emerge from the ice” in mid-February or “plums turn yellow” in mid-June.
What Ando admires most about using the ancient calendar is the “minute-ness of the observations.” “It really represents this reverence for nature. It became these really microscopic observations of natural phenomena around people. It shows a yearning to have a harmonious relationship to nature. During those times, China and Japan were agrarian nations.”
As with her previous works, this exhibit is a smattering of time and materials spanning chiffon and pigments. For “Flower Atlas,” Ando suspended fabric banners — 72 in all for the micro seasons — across the glass atrium at Brookfield Place’s Winter Garden to represent a micro season of five days and five flowers. Ando said viewers are invited to guess dates by flowers and season. Her hope is that the interactive element encourages a sense of interconnectedness with the viewers.
“I’m hoping that the public art can serve a function — even just if this calendar exists,” she said. “In the past 100 years, and 1 to 2 degrees of the earth heating up, the planting system is completely off. Geese don’t fly back, frogs don’t sing when they’re supposed to sing. [The Kõ calendar is] a really, really good data source because it’s collected with eyes and real people.…For me, it’s data and information being put forth that is more easily digestible.”
Ando will be at Brookfield Place for an artist talk on the evening of July 20. Her bloom research is compiled at 365-flowers.com.
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