Thousands of Ceramic Flowers Fill Vesterheim | Colorful Blossoms Bring Springtime Indoors


Each installation of "Flora Metamorphicae" is unique to its setting.

The weather may be cold outside, but inside Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum in Decorah, Iowa, there are thousands of beautiful and colorful ceramic flowers artfully configured for the exhibition “Flora Metamorphicae,” a remarkable project created by six contemporary Norwegian artists—Kari Aasen, Lipa Dalén, Siri Haaskjkold, Bjørg Hougen, Audhild Rypdal, and Eli Veim. All are educated ceramacists based in the Bergen, Norway, region. While they have individual careers as artists, they have been able to use their skills in ceramic techniques and their professional knowledge of art to create a beautiful but changing collective work of art.

Just as each of the 4,000 flowers is unique, each installation of “Flora Metamorphicae” is unique, depending upon the setting. Every installation is created by at least two of the artists, who take inspiration for the configuration from the space and potential audiences. Since 2003, the group of artists has had installations around the world, both indoors and outdoors, including Sweden, Finland, Latvia, France, The Netherlands, and South Korea. Vesterheim Museum is one of the first venues for “Flora Metamorphicae” in the United States.

While the flowers themselves and the installations are very modern, the artists’ techniques and inspirations are rooted in tradition. Flowers have long been a popular decoration for ceramics, including at porcelain factories like Norway’s Porsgrunn. A book of photos of porcelain from the Meissen factory inspired the idea for creating “Flora Metamorphicae.”

The flowers of this exhibition may also be seen as a challenge to tradition. According to art historian Mai Lahn-Johannessen, “Flora Metamorphicae” retains the basic elements of clay, flowers, and their inherent symbolism; however, the artists have changed these components to undergo a transformation.

The only requirements the artists had were that each flower needed to be handmade and no larger than two handfuls of clay. The flowers did not need to be similar to natural flowers, but could grow from imagination. Throughout 2014, Vesterheim will offer a number of creative art opportunities for all ages in connection with the exhibition. The exhibition will be open through November 16, 2014.

For more information, visit Vesterheim.