Fresh Artists Creates a 'Bloom Boom' at Philadelphia Flower Show
When attendees took their first few steps into this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, they were greeted with the usual stunning floral arrangements. But, as they rounded the corner, one of the show’s major exhibitions didn’t feature any real flowers at all — instead, it was an exhibit made up of 125 pieces of children’s artwork blown up to be larger than life.
Philadelphia-based nonprofit Fresh Artists had students K-12 from Philadelphia; Camden, New Jersey; and Norristown, Pennsylvania, schools submit artwork for its exhibition, “Bloom Boom.” Fresh Artists challenged kids over the course of three to four months to explore what it means to BLOOM, through several different prompts that ranged from designing an imaginary hybrid “Philly Phlower” by studying the purpose and parts of a flower and adding a special super-power, to “If I Were a Flower, Here’s How I Would Bloom” where students got to choose a flower and make a formal portrait as the way they see themselves or the way they wish others would see them.
Fresh Artists’ goal as a nonprofit is to empower compassionate, creative, and capable young people to tackle the critical shortage of arts funding in the Philadelphia area’s public schools. For this project, Fresh Artists donated free art supplies to participating schools.
To help visitors better connect with the artwork, Fresh Artists Deputy Director Jenna Wilchinsky says almost every piece had a personal statement from the artist.
“Almost every single student provided an artist statement about their artwork and reading them has been so meaningful. It allowed the students to sort of dive deep into how they were feeling, reflect on their artwork, and express to all visitors here why they chose a certain flower and why it’s meaningful to them — and in some cases how it can help the world,” Wilchinsky says.
To get the artwork to a grander size, Fresh Artists took the original works that ranged in size from 8x11" to 11x17" and scanned them on its Epson photo scanners at 1,200 dpi. From there, Fresh Artists enlarged the drawings to about 36" and utilized Canon Arizona and Canon Colorado devices to print them. From the artwork to the columns the artwork was hanging on, everything had ties to wide-format printing.
Barbara Allen, founder and executive director of Fresh Artists, explains that the flower show was not the organization’s first time working with wide-format printing.
“We have a full-scale printing lab in East Falls [Philadelphia], and from the beginning, wide-format printing was the whole point of what we were doing,” she says. “We saw great kids’ artwork all over and we blew it up for the school district of Philadelphia’s building. And the idea was they needed to dress up the building, so my son Roger — who is the co-founder — says, ‘I have an idea, digital!’ and it wound up being a huge success.”
After months of preparation for the flower show, Wilchinsky says words couldn’t even describe the feeling of how happy she was to see everything come together.
“It’s just phenomenal, to get to see all of our hard work from our staff, and all of the student’s hard work that they put into this, and the teachers and their hard work that they put into this over the last four months,” she says. “It’s truly a blessing to be here surrounded by so much artwork from so many talented students.”