“Standing and Breathing,” an art installation consisting of four wire sculptures that visitors are encouraged to locate through a scavenger hunt experience was installed in the treetops in late April.
As educators at the Morris Arboretum, Bryan Thompson-Nowak and Liza Hawley are always on the lookout for the “next best thing.”
“Standing and Breathing,” an art installation consisting of four wire sculptures that visitors are encouraged to locate through a scavenger hunt experience was installed in the treetops in late April. This encourages people to view the Arboretum’s canopies from a fresh perspective. With a background in architecture and product design, street artist and wire sculptor Reed Bmore, responsible for the installation, has always liked to “play with space.”
Thompson-Nowak, educational director at Morris, has noticed Bmore’s wire sculptures for years and followed his career on Instagram before reaching out to see if he would create an installation for their space. Bmore was immediately responsive to the idea and said “it would be a fun project.”
The artist, known for suspending his pieces on outdoor structures like traffic lights and electrical wires in cities throughout the U.S., was excited to create a more intentional way of viewing his art through a scavenger hunt experience held yearly at the Arboretum. He said that's a change from how people normally stumble upon his pieces in an urban setting.
Bmore, 30, a native of the Philippines, now lives in Baltimore. “When I proposed this project, he got right on board,” said Thompson-Nowak. “I explained what the Arboretum was like, and he drove up in the middle of a pandemic. We walked around for an hour, and then he left and went to his workshop. We asked for as many pieces as he could do.”
“Just Be,” one of his works, depicts three birds and is the first stop on the scavenger hunt journey; “Heart Hold,” the second, hangs from a pine tree, depicting a squirrel and an acorn; “Hear Here,” third in line, depicts a Cicada. And lastly, “What Does the Air Taste Like?” portrays a hummingbird and a flower.
“I chose and rearranged the components and words to match things that I personally saw when I was standing in those places,” Bmore said of the spaces where the sculptures were installed. He “let it ring very raw, very subjective,” so people could come to their own conclusions while standing and looking at the pieces.
When approaching the project, Bmore aimed to include animals and flowers that could be found in the Arboretum. He also wanted to create spaces for “isolated reflection” within nature.
The Arboretum has been hosting scavenger hunt experiences like this one for years. They are installed every spring and are available to visit until about September, said Hawley, assistant director of visitor education and youth programs. There will usually be a theme and poems to get visitors from one step of the experience to the next.
“One of the ways that scavenger hunts are interesting in general is you're trying to make people look at the Arboretum with fresh eyes and go to new places with fresh eyes,” said Thompson-Nowak. “I think this one [installation] is different and unique because we've put other things up in the trees before, but a lot of times things are actually on structures, this one is up in tree branches.”
The wire sculptures by Bmore are “up in the tree branches and dangling,” said Thompson-Nowak, “and because they're so light and airy, it's not like putting a heavy object in there. So, we could actually do that this year with no worry about any damage to the trees.”
The installation has been up for less than two months, and the Reed Bmore Art Find information page has received about 800 views already. “The cool thing is that he’s a young artist coming out,” said Thompson-Nowak. “He's definitely passionate about what he does.”
Hawley said that Bmore's wire art creations are also “all over Center City, Fishtown, South Philly and West Philly.” In addition to the Reed Bmore Art Find, Arboretum visitors can experience Fairy Woods, where visitors can create shelters for the gnomes and fairies of the Arboretum using natural materials.