When you come across an abandoned building do you see an eyesore or a possibility? Do you think, “They should knock this down?” Or do you think, “Someone should repair this house and breathe new life into it?” Do you ever say to yourself, “This home has a history? Do you envision a little kid walking out the front door, holding tightly to his mother’s hand as he left for the first day of school? Can you see prom pictures taken in the back yard? Do you feel a wife’s tears as she wakes up day after day after losing her husband? I didn’t until I read an article about a Michigan florist, who was creating FlowerHouse in an abandoned home, which she bought for $250. That is not a typo.
Lisa Waud invited florists from all over the country to pitch in to create FlowerHouse, a three-day exhibit that took place in October. They accepted the invitation. Ms. Waud wanted a chance to give an abandoned house its last hurrah. Last month, thousands of people came from all over the United States and Canada to tour the house. She is using the money made on the exhibit to responsibly demolish the house and will then plant a flower farm on the lot. She wanted to recognize the life of this house and to give it a proper funeral.
Amanda Williams, a Chicago architect and professor at IIT, has been painting abandoned homes in Englewood, IL, vivid colors. She chooses the colors based on her memories of growing up African-American on the South Side of Chicago. For example, the color of Flaming Hot Cheetos is an inspiration for one house. An exhibit of her project, Color(ed) Theory will be at the Chicago Cultural Center until January 3rd. While I have not yet driven through Englewood to check out these buildings, I did go to the Architecture Biennial at the Cultural center and saw the exhibit of her work. I highly recommend the show. It is fabulous and great for both adults and kids. There are buildings to go into and cool stuff to see with little, tiny people.
Another hotbed of artists using abandoned buildings as their medium is through SiTE:LAB’s The Rumsey Street Project in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kate Gilmore, winner of a $200,000 ArtPrize award,
created a piece, Higher Ground, in an abandoned convent in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood in Grand Rapids. SiTE:LAB is working in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity and is turning a bunch of unoccupied structures, such as a church, rectory, body shop, residences and vacant lots into a temporary art center. Eventually Habitat will redevelop the properties.
If you want to explore the idea of transforming an abandoned building print out a picture of an abandoned building and beautify it using pastels, paper flowers and any other embellishments lying around the house! If you need some inspiration, check out this slideshow! Abandoned Building Art PDF