Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Flowerbot and the Friendly Greeter

Even though it hasn't felt much like spring around here, it was still recently time for The Milwaukee Art Museum's annual Art in Bloom show. For this event, floral designers interpret the museum's art collection through plants. You might remember last year's show: Spooky Blooms at The Milwaukee Art Museum

Last year, in keeping with my blog's theme, I searched through the displays for anything remotely dark and titled the post "Spooky Blooms". I'm always on the lookout for the dark or mysterious aspects of my everyday activities, so I can share those here. This year, not a whole lot was spooky. There was one piece, however, that really fit the bill. It was hands down my favorite floral interpretation, and a work of art in itself.

As you can see, there's a metal rib cage encompassing the floral organs. There was even a spinal cord on the back of the display. It looks like it's grabbing a person with its skeletal hand in the photo below!

The skeletal robot, or "Flowerbot" as I've decided to call him, had some very cool hands:

The floral display was representing a sculpture titled The Greeter, which is a friendly, waving robot.

A new character at the museum was this headless writer, busy at his desk. At first I was reminded of The Headless Horseman and countless Halloween props. The figure was wearing noticeably bright fabrics. If there was any information about him displayed, I couldn't find it. At least I managed to find out who the artist probably is. From a lot of similar pieces I found online, I'm going to assume the artist is Yinka Shonibare. It's worth looking at more of his work: http://www.yinkashonibarembe.com

As often happens in the process of writing my blog posts, I learned something new. This time I learned about Yinka Shonibare. There are many interviews with him on YouTube. This video about his work is one of my favorites:

I learned from the video above, that the headless figures signify The French Revolution, or probably any time power is taken from those who abuse it. From what I read on the artist's web site, a lot of his work is about colonialism and politics.

So, what I saw at our museum was a headless figure dressed in a fancy 1700s style. The fabric is obviously not what he would have had on; the artist uses a lot of African fabric. Still, this is a style of clothing worn by a rich French man of that time, and his head is cut off. He's surrounded by Rococo paintings. Rococo is one of the most excessive styles of French art, a style in which you mostly see rich people having a good time. If you take all these things into consideration, this room is a striking and somewhat eerie placement for the figure!

I'm going to transition from the talk of heads being chopped off to this ceremonial axe. I'm sure this axe was not actually used for any purpose like that. Still, it seemed funny that the next object I planned to share was an axe. The axe has probably been at the museum for some time, but I hadn't seen it before. Isn't it beautiful? I can't imagine what the object next to the axe is.

All I know about these objects is that they are African. From what I've read about similar objects online, they were probably used by someone of high standing in a society and during ceremonial rituals. If you know any more about these objects, I'd like to hear it!


  1. "Flowerbot" is awesome! The "Headless Horsemen" is making me laugh because I'm imagining him at home, catching up on a little paperwork, after a long night of lopping off heads. ;)

  2. Little Gothic Horrors ~ Yeah, that one really stood out. The metal skeleton parts were such a unique container for the plants. Most of the displays were a lot more traditional.

    Ha! I wonder what kind of paperwork that would be? Maybe he's balancing his checkbook or something. :) I'd like to find out a little more about this specific sculpture. It appears that the artist bases a lot of his work off of classic pieces of art or historical events. I wonder if this figure was based off of anything we'd recognize?

  3. "Flowerbot" is so well done! The flowers really do look like internal organs. :0)
    Thank you for highlighting the work of Yinka Shonibarembe. It really does make one pause and think. I love his use of color and print.
    Cool axe!

  4. Jeanne ~ Yeah, isn't it interesting how flowers can represent something like organs so well? I saw those very plants in other arrangements, and they just looked like plants in an arrangement. It goes to show how creative this one was!

    I thought you might be interested in the artist, since I read about art so often on your blog. Watching that video definitely made me stop and think. It's amazing how you can see art in one way and then in a totally different way after learning about it. Before searching for information, I thought this was a lighthearted piece! Before, he seemed like a whimsical mannequin in fun, bright clothes.

    Yeah, I loved the axe. It would be fun to learn more about it.

  5. The Greeter reminds me of a tin can robot a neighbour made for our son when he was little. It sounds awful to say, but I hated that thing. It got recycled the second our son decided he didn't want it in his room anymore. And now it's considered art - maybe I should have kept it!! LOL

  6. Insomniac's Attic ~ Haha! Maybe after you threw the robot away, someone salvaged it and donated it to the museum. ;) Just kidding. There's a lot of art in the folk art section of our museum that you wouldn't want around the house! Still, I find a lot of it whimsical and amusing in a museum setting. If you walked past it in the dark at home, it would probably send you through the roof! :)

    If you'd like to view the museum's folk art collection, here it is:


  7. Interesting pieces. I love the headless writer.

  8. Julie ~ Me too! Nice outfit, hey? If you haven't watched the video yet, take a look. You'll see that piece in a totally different light!