BLOOM is a site-specific, mixed media sculptural installation that doubles as a non-traditional donor wall. Commissioned by St. Teresa’s Academy in 2018, it commemorates the most recent renovation and addition to the campus, executed by the local architecture firm Gould Evans. Access to a rich historical archive led to rewarding research and design processes. Being brought in during the design phase, in which a truly collaborative relationship between client, architect and artist was able to flourish, resulted in a work that delivered beyond all parties’ initial expectations.
Honoring history while looking to the future is key to the culture of St. Teresa’s Academy. A client with such a rich historical archive, which includes physical objects, was certainly a luxury to be treasured by any artist.The origins of the campus and the transformation from open prairie to cherished arboretum is evidenced in Trees of Windmoor by Sister Marie Eulalia Ward. Noting this as a key inspiration, I shared in the dismay of the necessary loss of a magnolia tree for the building expansion. Change brings loss as well as gain and I feel that this loss should be acknowledged along with the excitement of the new. I firmly believe that Mother Evelyn O’Neil would agree, so the magnolia blossom became the muse of the project.
St. Teresa’s history with lace is also a key source of inspiration. Melding details from a lace sample in the archival collection with the form of a petal creates the fundamental element of the sculpture. My previous work with lace sculpture brings contemporary materials and methods to a historical practice. Thus, at the core of every petal lay actual thread, while a modern material, water-based resin, provides structure and form. Each lace petal represents a donor and together, they create golden, blooming clusters of lace. Along with this metaphorical representation, each petal is connected to a “root” that leads to the name of a donor. The suspended sculpture creates a floating effect, while the roots are attached to the wall, lending to an ethereal quality that is simultaneously grounded.