This post originally appeared on the LAIP in January 2016. 

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Pop des Fleurs at Arsenal Park

by Suzy Waldo

After over a decade of working in libraries, I have embraced the idea that sometimes the best projects happen totally by accident. Early in January 2015, my friend and fellow South Side Community Council member Jennifer Holliman asked me if Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh- South Side would be interested in participating in an art project.

Of course I’m interested in a public art project! Who doesn’t love art?

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That art project was Pop des Fleurs. Or more accurately, practice for Pop des Fleurs:

Pop des Fleurs was originally conceived by Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh member, Annette Sandberg. The idea was born during the cold and dreary Pittsburgh winter. Annette was trying to remember how her friends and family had remained up-beat and connected during long, cold winters in her birthplace, Norway. The image that came to mind was her family home, filled with flowers and candles and warm conversations in front of the fireplace.

Its creation will create color and bring delight during the dark season of February and March through handmade, pop-up flower bouquets and gardens. It will also raise awareness for the internationally renowned exhibit of contemporary fiber art happening here in Pittsburgh in May 2016.

The Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh is well-known for their amazing 2013 community project Knit the Bridge. The guild wanted to have another community outreach project to celebrate the Fiberart International 2016.

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This is how we ended up making 1,000 flowers in a month.

CLP- South Side was a test installation (along with Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville) to see what (recycled!) materials would survive the harsh Pittsburgh winter. We made flowers out of plastic tablecloths, newspaper bags, coated paper, wool, acrylic yarn, shower curtains and any other material we thought would work. The result was a gorgeous, colorful installation of flowers (and some soggy coated paper.)

We didn’t do this alone. In fact, the South Side community embraced the project from start to finish. Community groups like the South Side Community Council and South Side Chamber of Commerce held workshops, library customers made flowers at home and even opened up their homes for workshops (with wine!), the CLP- South Side Crochet and Knitting Club made crocheted flowers every week, and to top it off, we installed on my birthday!

Our neighborhood loved the flowers. The Chamber of Commerce and a local senior center were inspired to have their own installations, meaning that the South Side was covered with flowers for the three worst months of winter. I was sad when we took our installation down.

A few months later, Jenn said, “Hey Suz, want to do a bigger art project?” And of course I agreed.

So in February of 2016, all 16 branches plus the Main branch of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will be covered in flowers. And the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Dippy the Dinosaur will have his own 18 foot handmade scarf.

So stay tuned!  My next blog will include details of installing this year’s Pop des Fleurs art in 16 different library locations!

 

MeSuzy Waldo is the Library Services Manager at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-South Side, which is her dream job. She’s left-handed, loves symmetry, presents, bike-riding and bacon. She hates birds. Her favorite books are The Life of Pi by Yann Martel and Microserfs by Douglas Coupland. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and has worked for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh since 2004.

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