written by Nicole Borgenicht
photographs courtesy of Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Garden
Rebecca Louise Law will be participating in Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Garden’s summer program this year with what promises to be a stunning exhibition. The artist is internationally known for creating hanging floral installations whose gorgeous appearance and sweetly scented flowers captivate the senses. Casa Romantica “wanted to expand their visitors’ experiences,” explains Law. “The commission was to create a community-based installation that would reflect the surrounding gardens and coastal setting.”
Law’s works exemplify the very best of contemporary floral art, and include last year’s Beauty of Decay at the Chandran Gallery in San Francisco and 2015’s Outside at the Viacom Building in New York City. Pride, which opened earlier this year at the Skovgaard Museum in Viborg, Denmark, is her largest to date.
Law’s process for her Casa Romantica piece began with a recommended list of dried flowers that she will combine with native flora collected by the local community. There is an element of surprise, she says, in choosing which indigenous flowers she ultimately uses. In a timed art installation such as this one, which will last three months, the natural drying tendencies of the elements interact with the artistic environment that Law develops.
Casa Romantica chose the show’s title, Casa Coastal: Rebecca Louise Law. “It’s the first time I have allowed someone else to title a work,” Law admits, “but I feel that this piece is a very strong collaboration that can only be brought to life through the patron, the community, my team and myself. It’s great to share this artwork with the costal community.”
8,000 blooms have been grown, collected and classified by Casa Romantica over the past year. “It is the first installation of this scale made with only community participation and local donations,” Law points out. “I’m really excited to see all that is grown and collected. The community is incredibly inspirational.”
In the next step of the collaboration, Casa Romantica prepares the materials and rigs the installation, and then Law brings in her own team. “I have two of my best assistants installing the materials to a mathematical plan that I designed in 2016. They will be working alongside volunteers from the community.”
The Casa Romantica exhibition is Law’s ultimate West Coast floral project. “Although every piece of material will be entwined with copper wire,” she explains, “I have requested that within the 8,000 elements the collection should consist of everything natural, i.e., foliage, flowers, wood and shells. This installation will showcase all elements of the Californian natural world. The materials will be hung to dry with an equal distance between specimens, allowing each element space to dry and preserve. It’s going to be the California natural coast suspended in time.”
Visitors to the Casa will enjoy a rich visual and olfactory experience. “I love how this installation is going to have an unexpected crop completely dependent on local growth,” Law says. “The blooms will create one scent that slowly fades whilst the flowers dry.” The exhibition is scheduled to run three months.
Law’s previous floral shows have involved a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and spatial relationships, resembling a floral waterfall, for instance, or a light rain of flowers that linger before dropping. Law’s Casa Romantica show will interpret nature in a distinctive manner. “This installation is going to be made in two adjoining rooms,” Law remarks, “with each having an organic form of entwined flowers and copper hanging from the ceiling down to the floor. I always work with each space to create an installation that viewers can either fully immerse themselves in or stand back and observe. This is the first installation that will be made entirely from material grown and sourced within the community. It will be incredible to see all that the surrounding land provides.”
Once the piece is up, Law will make her final review—a step that may provide her with an opportunity for spiritual balance. “I work with elements within a space like I work with paint on a canvas,” the artist says. “Each element has a place and the room becomes its frame. Once I finish an installation, I love to have a moment to take it in. Then I hand it over to the space, patron and viewer. Sometimes timing is so tight that I don’t get a chance alone with an installation and I have to let the work go before I’ve had my moment. The work is created to share, whether in the process of making or once it’s complete. The human interaction with nature is what drives me.” Visit the Rebecca Louise Law exhibit at Casa Romantica - Opens June 9. www.casaromantica.org