Given an opportunity, I take it. Given an opportunity to combine both of my passions, art and seeds, I become the luckiest guy around. Thrown in doing it at an institution with a special place in my heart, well, as the title says, it doesn't get any better.
Fleisher Art Memorial is a Philadelphia, PA art school that is a source of inspiration, creativity and community. It's in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Philly, right by the famous Italian Market. That neighborhood has long been a haven for immigrants starting with the Italians, and now with south-east Asians, and Mexicans. In the center of it all is this wonderful institution whose mission revolves around the humanity in all of us.
The mission of the Fleisher Art Memorial is to make art accessible to everyone, regardless of economic means, background, or artistic experience.
I can attest to this, and Fleisher being a source of inspiration, creativity and community. In the '90s, I volunteered there. At that time, I was pursuing millinery as my medium for creative expression. I had hit a brick wall in my work, and I didn't know what to do. The artist that I was working with on an installation and performance art piece, and his assistant, a teaching artist at Fleisher, offered me advice at an informal critique one day that inspired me to continue my work. As it would be, I ended up having two hat shows at the Sanctuary, an old church which is a beautiful and dramatic space for events.
I can't say enough about what Fleisher means to me, so when a friend emailed me, and asked for recommendations for seeds that he needed for a seed bomb craft project there, I was overjoyed that I could give back to this wonderful institution. I let him know that the Library Seed Bank would be donating the seeds they needed, and I would be there to lend a hand. A volunteer tagged along with me on Staurday, and it was wonderful. What I experienced was exactly what I did in the '90s, and what Fleisher states as that it's a source for inspiration, creativity and community.
The project was to make seed bombs which are used for aerial reforestation. Seeds are bound into small balls with organic material that hold the seeds in place and provide nutrients as the organic material decomposes, These seeds can then be dropped into remote, arid of off-limit areas, usually done by airplanes. A seed grenade, as it was know when the concept originated in 1973 by Liz Christy as part of the Green Guerrillas, which became known as the guerilla gardening movement. These grenades were balloons filled with fertilizer and tomato seeds, and were thrown onto empty lots as a way to enhance the look of a neighborhood. There is a problem though with doing this with vegetable seeds if there is no one to care for them. The fruits can draw rats, and that only serves the rats.
Flowers though are a different story. That's they type of seed bomb we created on Saturday. Straw flowers and zinnias to be specific, as recommended to me by a Master Gardener with a thumb as green as they could be. When I arrived at Fleisher, the event was just starting, and the teachers were molding clay into these really neat sculptures as you can see from some of the photos below. Turtles, bunnies, birds nests, all of which that could be found in or around gardens in nature, The teachers encouraged the children to make the sculptures their own, and the children responded well as they sat, stood and created in the spirit of the community table.
It was a great day of inspiration, creativity and community, which is what Fleisher is all about. Hopefully, there will be events like this to come.