Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Monday, November 27, 2006

Perishable and Exact: Rebecka Sexton

With paint, pencil and 85,000 daisy petals, a Chicago artist maps a new world.


Red Camouflage: Long Time Back, by Rebecka Sexton

at the Creative Research Laboratory, Austin, TX

Photo: Julie Ardery

Rounding our way through the Flatbed Press building in East Austin, we stumbled into an odd laboratory. Here were singing silhouettes, oil drums, plants under grow-lights, and along one wall a immense map (or was it a musical score?) radiating away from a huge yellow disc.

We’d just crossed over into The Creative Research Laboratory, an outpost of the University of Texas Fine Art Department. The current show reunites students and former students, instructors and former faculty, pointing up some of their shared themes, media and techniques. But it was the red “lettering” along the wall that drew us close; on inspection we saw this wasn’t script but petals, thousands of them assiduously pinned into the wall and each crowned with a tiny tufted seed.

imageRed Camouflage by Rebecka Sexton (detail)

Photo: Julie Ardery

This marvelous combination of the natural and the schematic is the work of artist Rebecka Sexton. She earned an MFA at University of Texas in 1995 and was an instructor here in Austin before moving north to Chicago, her home now.

We first saw her artwork, a show called “Pink,” in 1997 at the Carnegie Center in Lexington, Kentucky. It included a variety of flowers impaled like wilting butterflies to a white wall. In the years since, she’s created many installations with flowers, harnessing the fragility of blooms to steely artistic intention. We found the new work, titled “Red Camouflage: Long Time Back,” especially strong.

imageGerberas awaiting installation

Creative Research Laboratory, Austin, TX

Photo: Rebecka Sexton

Sexton writes that for this piece she had a nurseryman “patron.” She contacted Doug Dobecki of B & H Flowers, gerbera specialty growers in Carpinteria, California.  “I described the nature of the art exhibit and the emphasis on mentoring,” Sexton says, “and Doug offered to donate the flowers,” all 2500 of them.

From a distance, the piece looks like a red planet flayed into two dimensions and orbiting the sun. “The yellow circle,” Sexton writes, “is the size and height of a body. It is supposed to engulf the viewer, to act as a visual tool to bring them to that part of the wall and reflect onto them.”  Up close, each petal hangs like a tiny tongue, desirous and tender.

For lots more on Red Camouflage and the process of its creation, here’s an interview with the artist.

In the past several years, Sexton has been using gerberas because of the petals’ shape, their profusion on each bloom, and their durability: “They don’t disintegrate for a long period of time - years actually.” 

But the current show won’t last that long. If you’re anywhere near Austin, catch it before December 2. The Creative Research Laboratory, at 2832 East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., is open noon-5 pm, Tuesday - Saturday.  (512) 322.2099





Posted by Julie on 11/27 at 04:53 PM
Art & MediaCut-Flower TradePermalink