William McKinley’s eyes scanned back and forth across the room. He hoped to perfect the design containing nearly two dozen multi-level hanging custom creations. The art pieces needed to be positioned just so.
After all, the exhibit is called “Balancing Act: Floral Equilibria”.
Expanding the mind
Twenty-seven students from the Benz School of Floral Design, combined silk flowers with a hula hoop to create unique sculptures. The children’s toy was cut up as the artists saw fit. String and ribbon held together an artwork that had to be at least three levels high and have at least four balance points. The assignment, a focus on principles of design, allowed for boundless creativity.
McKinley, endowed chair of the Benz School of Floral Design in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, appreciates the students’ exposure to varying techniques.
“It’s another experience for the students because we mostly do fresh (flowers),” he said. “In classes and labs they don’t get to use silk, so it’s a different mechanic. You learn different ways of manipulating the flowers.”
He enjoys watching the evolution of his students’ creativity. “The diversity of what the student imagination comes up with always amazes me,” McKinley said. “It’s rewarding for me to see how it changed their perception of what balance is all about. A student is growing and expanding their design skills.”
Inspiration in the air
Cathy Hastedt, director of the Texas A&M University Art Galleries, supports the collaboration. “Our visitors like to see student work,” she said. “And everybody likes flowers.”
McKinley pointed to the crochet canary yellow flowers on one work.
“Handmade,” he said.
The hand-crafted sculptures swayed delicately in the breeze created by passersby as the designs appeared to float effortlessly in the air.
Balancing Act: Floral Equilibria runs until May 28 in the Texas A&M University J. Wayne Stark Galleries. The hours are 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and noon – 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
“I think the diversity of what the student imagination comes up with always amazes me.”
Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Endowed chair of the Benz School of Floral Design