for.ever.bloom by JoAnn Fleischhauer
This summer the President’s Choice Mural at Discovery Green takes a three-dimensional turn with for.ever.bloom by Jo Ann Fleischhauer. The piece, located along the side of the Alkek building and facing the Sarofim Lawn, consists of parasols arranged in front of a printed image attached to the building’s windows. Various photographs, schematic drawings and words are incorporated. The effect is that of a layered, three-dimensional collage.
The piece is an evolution of an art installation called The Parasol Project that Fleischhauer constructed in 2006 – 2007 at the historic Foley House across from the George R. Brown Convention Center. The original piece combined 123 parasols with floral-like designs derived from black and white Magnetic Resonance Images (MRIs) of brains. They were grouped into a grand bouquet and attached to the façade of the house. Words expressing private emotions as well as medical terminology were also projected onto the windows as part of the installation. On a more intimate scale, for.ever.bloom re-envisions the parasols with a newly created two dimensional image combining poetry, text, and the hand-colored drawings of deconstructed brain scans.
Fleischhauer says her inspiration for the piece is how people have communicated their emotions throughout the decades. In the Victorian era, which is when the Foley House was constructed, emotions were repressed and only expressed privately. Parasols and flowers were used as a type of coded language to express themselves. In recent years, self-expression has moved from the private arena to communal areas as seen every day in Discovery Green. Breakthroughs in technology have allowed scientists to map out emotions in the brain while Artificial Intelligence promises to change the way humans communicate in the future.
The President’s Choice Mural is a series of murals created by artists selected by Discovery Green Conservancy President Barry Mandel, which has included works by Ange Hillz, Anat Ronen and Zozo Garcia. Mandel’s choice of Fleischhauer for the final mural of his tenure at the park is fitting as it updates Fleischhauer’s original Parasol Project, 2006, which was the last project he commissioned as president of the Houston Downtown Alliance.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Buffalo, New York, Fleischhauer received her BA in Art from Bates College and BFA from San Francisco Art Institute. Based in Houston, she has completed multiple large-scale public art installations, both nationally and internationally, that interface art, science, architecture and history.