ana maria hernando
Boulder, March 22nd, 2023
Two years ago, as the organic tribute to the victims of March 22, 2021, was dismantled, the Boulder Office of Arts and Culture invited me to take items from the site to create an art piece. I was deeply moved by the incredibly heartfelt outpouring from the community who had come together with flowers, messages, mementos. I could feel the sorrow, the community’s need to hold each other, and to quietly and respectfully accompany the families, the victims, the loss. To stand up against inhumanity.
For me, art is a verb, it’s active. Art elevates all that we are, offers us a way to transcend, to question, to be awake. It transforms us and blurs the edges of our preconceptions, it expands possibilities. Art fills us with beauty. In this instance of an immense tragedy, my wish is to use my art practice to support our collective grieving and to instill some hope for regeneration and transformation.
There were hundreds of bouquets of flowers of all sizes, browned and blackened and standing there as a love offering. I could feel the gesture of the offering, a message of powerlessness and humility, but with an extraordinary need to be present in some way, of not being obliterated in the opportunity to give love.
I chose to transform these blackened flowers into compost, and with it I began a Flowering Eulogy. Compost is what life does with death, with the help of the elements and countless amounts of diminutive organisms. This piece, Flowering Eulogy, pays reverence to the community’s grief, to the moment of immense sadness, when offering flowers, the heart bursting forward needing to be wholly present, is wholly loving.
I love flowers. They are the jewels of the earth. They come in spasms of joy, they cover, wild, the sides of these mountains. As we know, society impregnates the giving of flowers with many meanings. The ones at the impromptu memorial, even in their decaying state, were completely infused by tenderness. Using these offered flowers to make compost has been an intimate experience. After two years of being with this project, I am stunned by the miracle of cooperation of all the organisms playing a role, by the vocation of life to keep happening. Now, the compost is done. Even in its transformation, the flowers, and the original tender heart offerings are present.
It has been an honor to be a guardian for the offerings from so many. It is time for me to open this guardianship to the community, as a part of our healing journey from this horrific act of violence.
A Flowering Eulogy is here. The compost has been packaged for you to take home, along with seeds to grow in your garden or somewhere else you wish for flowers to sprout. This is an invitation to continue the ceremony that has been for me handling your offered flowers from the organic memorial. Spread these seeds. Nourish them with the compost. I hope you will feel the intimacy of the offering, and that some collective healing might happen.
Ana María Hernando
This project has been supported by Black Cube Nomadic Art Museum, the Boulder Office of Arts and Culture, BBB Seeds, and Botanical Interests Seeds. The artist wants to thank María Clara Aguirre, Paloma Hernando, Catherine McCall, Karen Andries-Lumpe, Donna Karmeris, Fernanda Moreno, and Mikhaila Friske for their support.