New Norwest Gallery of Art exhibit encourages healing through floral art

FLOWER THERAPY is an immersive live flower art exhibition and fundraiser for Norwest Community Collaborative’s COVID-19 Gardening Through Grief Project. 

The exhibition opened this weekend at the Norwest Gallery of Art on July 17th. 

The gardening through grief project was inspired by gallery founder Asia Hamilton’s mother, and project partner Kayana Sessoms’s father— both of whom died from COVID-19. 

“Detroit has suffered so much loss from gun violence to this terrible pandemic that we felt the need for a space of healing and understanding,” Hamilton said in a statement. “Flowers helped us through our grief and this Flower Therapy exhibition is just that, THERAPY. An opportunity for encouragement to all who attend.”

Artwork on display at the Flower Therapy exhibition.The exhibit is a fundraiser benefiting the COVID-19 Gardening Through Grief Project curated by Founder and Chief Curator, Asia Hamilton, and Curatorial Assistant, Simone Bryant. 

Several of the large floral arrangements and gift cards will be auctioned off to raise additional funds for the project.

Given the nature of the exhibition, it will run through August 1st — depending on how long the flowers last. The gallery is usually only open on weekends, but for this exhibit, it will be open Tuesday through Sunday, from 2 to 8 p.m. 

Admission for the exhibit is $20. 

FLOWER THERAPY features the art of Joy Bradley known as JoyX — the artist behind Joy x Design, where she creates fantastical scenery art installations, specializing in giant flowers and vine structures. 

All of Bradley’s artwork originates from her imagination, is handmade, and built from the ground up. She traveled to Russia in 2018 to learn the art form of giant floral design. She has since branched out and created her own lane by constructing giant freestanding structures. 
The exhibit also features the art of Jessica DeMuro, a multimedia artist living and working in Detroit. Her work explores humanity and nature in an attempt to connect us and place us on common ground. 

DeMuro creates empathy and bolsters mutual understanding through photography, collage, installation, sculpture — and/or the intersection of these mediums. DeMuro sees art in everyday life. As she says, “there’s no escaping it.”

Denyse Couture, a self-taught, multi-disciplined artist, specializing in portraiture, hand-cut collage, urban Plein Air, and anything else that catches her eye, is also featured. She is a master in layered and textured art.

Naddine Ahmad, the founder and designer at Blüm Floral, a luxury floral design service, full-service event planning, and florist located in Northville, Mich., is also part of the exhibit. Naddine was drawn to the floral industry after a lifelong passion for gardening with her father. Naddine launched Blüm in 2018 with the intention of creating floral designs that mimic nature, and bring a unique touch to each arrangement. Naddine utilizes various forms of color, texture, and shape to ensure no two arrangements are alike.

Lastly, Caroline Waller, owner and founder of Passiflora, contributed to the exhibit. Waller says that she designs with the intent of speaking to the heart of each individual client. Her passion for art and the natural world is woven into each design, and with her large cutting garden, she intertwines seasonal flora into each piece she creates. Caroline crafts arrangements for events internationally, specializes in weddings, and her favorite work is large-scale public art.

“We had an amazing turnout. What I love is that it’s such a blissful space, people aren’t just seeing it…they are experiencing it. People are smelling it and being surrounded by flowers,” Hamilton said of the opening weekend. “One exhibit is made almost entirely of baby’s breath and is crafted to look like clouds and reminds me of how even in life… things come and go.” 

Hamilton said that she has experienced a lot of grief in her life, but she recently came to understand that she is learning that death is not just a final thing, but the beginning of something else. 

She and Sessoms wanted to create a healing space where they and others could send love to their ancestors. “In Latino culture, they have the Day of the Dead, Native Americans have the way that they honor their ancestors, but a lot of the practices of African culture were stripped away from African Americans during enslavement.” 

That longing led Hamilton and Sessoms to come up with the idea for the Gardening through Grief project, and FLOWER THERAPY. 

Based in the Northwest Neighborhood of Detroit, Norwest Gallery of Art is dedicated to contemporary art with a curatorial focus on African and African-American Art. It exhibits artwork by the diaspora’s most significant emerging and career artists.

See the FLOWER THERAPY exhibit Tuesday through Sunday until August 1st or while the flowers last. For more information visit the Norwest Gallery of Art website.
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