DETROIT—Those who attended Movement Electronic Music Festival in Detroit discovered a different interpretation of the music with the installation of a giant, 90s-style boom box made entirely of plants and flowers. “Bloom Box” is an 8 foot tall, 12 foot long, vertical garden created by Detroit artist Emily Thornhill located near the water by the festival’s Red Bull stage in Detroit’s Hart Plaza.
“The festival can be a really over sensory experience,” Thornhill said. “I thought putting these plants there would calm people and help them feel more relaxed.”
“Bloom Box” was made of 36 hand-made planter boxes containing rows of plants in varying shades and textures. While the piece includes some flowers, Thornbill said it is mostly made of mosses and grasses in different shades of green.
Thornhill was one of six artists commissioned by Community Arts Moving Projects Detroit to create pieces for Movement, with the ultimate goal of placing the art permanently in the city after the event. “We really like the Bloom Box, it’s the most fun of all the pieces,” said Vanessa Miller, co-founder of CAMP Detroit. “We like that it’s tangible, that you can actually feel it and interact with it, and that it’s soft, a lot of pieces we have this year are steel, we like that it adds a softness, it’s a lot of fun, it’s a great piece.”
CAMP Detroit was established in 2011 in partnership with Paxahau, the Movement’s production company, to bring Detroit-based art to the music festival. With sponsorship from Opportunity Detroit, Recycle Here, the Detroit Creative Corridor Center and the Detroit Techno Foundation, CAMP Detroit provided $1,500 stipends to six Detroit artists to create pieces that, Miller said, “reflect the heart and soul of the city.”
For Thornhill, who owns the Homeslice clothing store in Detroit’s Russell Industrial Center, the piece is a far cry from her usual work in fashion design. She said the change has been a gratifying experience.
“I’m not strictly a fashion designer, I consider myself an artist,” she said. “This is me using a different meaning and expanding my status quo.”
Thornhill said she got her inspiration from a vertical garden at the airport in Shanghai, China as well as from the work of Patrick Blanc, a botanist whose vertical gardens have been displayed all over the world.
She said she also took inspiration from the “living logos” she found in Paris in designer shops like Luis Vuitton with logos made out of moss. But the design, she said, was taken from an old sketch done by her brother she found in a notebook.
“I pretty much copied his art work and transferred it into this garden,” she said.
After the Movement, “Bloom Box” and the other art pieces will be transferred to the Orion Music Festival on Detroit’s Belle Isle June 8-9 before becoming available for interested companies and communities for permanent installation.
Though she has no takers yet, Thornhill said the project could be changed to plant fruit and vegetables as a community garden. “In the future it’ll be a great food source,” she said. But for now, Miller hopes the work will make people smile.
“It’s a really great piece,” she said. “I think people are going to have a lot of fun with it.”