Thursday, July 28, 2011

Farm museum

A few weeks ago I went to the farm museum in Williamsburg, MA to see the town's collection of implements especially from the dairies in the area. With so many of the local dairies closing, several gone in Cummington!, and our food systems becoming more and more consolidated and industrialized, I was somewhat saddened to see the glass bottles, milkers and engines relegated to curiosities. There is a beauty to the utility of these objects  with their clean lines, economy of materials and branding. How many logos and packaging materials today inspire you? Walking around that collection, I was struck with the whimsy of the packaging and details that adorned these objects that were used everyday as critical components of survival for the people using them. The details lavished on the carts and lathes speak to the pride and art that went into the creation of these objects, and the gratitude for time and energy saved by using them. From my days working for a Folk Art Dealer, and at the Freer and Sackler museums of Art, I grew to love and admire the power of everyday objects. There's magic in touching or looking at objects that have been used repeatedly in both spiritual and secular ritual. I truly enjoyed seeing the magic that was part of the farms in this town. 

The following are a selection of my favorite logos and lettering from the museum....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chicago Botanic Garden

I have been reading the Wild Braid by Stanley Kunitz lately. As a poet he connects artistic process, language and poetry to garden spaces. These lines are a miraculous distillation of some of what I also find moving about gardens:

The garden communicates what it shows to you but you also contribute to the garden some of what you are seeking in your own life, your own state of being. One reason a garden can speak to you is that it is both its own reality and a manifestation of the interior life of the mind that imagined it in the beginning.

The following are some photos from my time at the Chicago Botanic garden. The images describe how I was inspired by the place and the intersection of events in my life at that time, as Kunitz so eloquently describes in the passage above. It truly is an amazing place - one that I am looking forward to going back to, and one that I am grateful to have been during that time. 

Stormwater Swale


Jensen Inspired Council Ring

White Trillium


Japanese Garden

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Healthcare Garden Design

I recently completed the Healthcare Garden Design course at the Chicago Botanic Garden and now have professional certification in Healthcare Garden Design. It was a week-long intensive at the Chicago Botanic Garden, just north of Chicago. It's been nearly two months since the course, and I am still assimilating all the information and lessons learned. I imagine that I am going to be doing so for a long time. Everyday, we had fantastic lectures from experts in the field such as; Claire Cooper Marcus, Marni Barnes, Joanne Westphal and Nilda Cosco, as well as site visits to healing and therapeutic gardens in the Chicago Area.

Taking the course inspired me to research healing spaces and design from antiquity to today and then ask questions about how and why these forms evolved into what they are typically now ( I'll share some of my ideas about that in a future blog post...). I also was amazed - though not surprised by some of the research around the power of green spaces to heal and help produce positive health outcomes in hospital, outpatient and rehab facilities. According to Ulrich:

Laboratory and clinical investigations have found that viewing nature settings can produce significant restoration within less than five minutes as indicated by:
blood pressure
heart activity
muscle tension
brain electrical activity
(Ulrich, 1981; Ulrich et al., 1991)

The understanding gleaned from the combination of the research and the site visits was helpful to apply and test when our group was charged with creating a garden in an assisted living facility. Our group focused on condensing the different ecosystems around the facility into representative landscape areas on the site, to include a wetland that could double as stormwater infrastructure, a prairie, an Oak/ Hickory woodland and a meandering stream. The idea was to give residents a chance to experience their macro surroundings in a micro setting, and to provide places for gathering and discovery.

While at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the classroom was steps away from the Enabling Garden, a beautiful and well designed space. I took many notes there and admired the thoughtful ways they brought gardening to everyone. While the course is specific and geared towards generating an expertise in healing and therapeutic gardens, the design principles apply anywhere...One should strive to create spaces that encourage reflection, discovery, social interaction, sense of accomplishment and feeling of safety.

Enabling Garden Entrance Map

Enabling Garden Raised Beds

Enabling Garden Bird Feeder

Enabling Garden Toolshed
Group Project Final Design