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Last Flowers

A permanent exhibition curated for Hildegard House, Louisville KY


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Short Statement & Reception Details:

Last Flowers is a new collection of art by Louisville-based artists, curated by Julie Leidner for permanent installation at Hildegard House, a small non-profit in Butchertown that provides end-of-life care for those in need. A pop-up exhibition of this special collection will open at Louisville Visual Art (LVA) with a public reception on Thursday, April 11th from 5pm - 7pm and run for one week during LVA business hours. This pop-up exhibition is a rare opportunity to view the collection before it is installed permanently throughout Hildegard House’s two properties in Butchertown, which include spaces not accessible by the public. Last Flowers is part of the second cycle of LVA’s curatorial fellowship program Curate, Purchase, Inspire (CPI). The fourteen artists featured in the collection are:

Elmer Lucille Allen, Tiffany CalvertTerry DunhamGaela ErwinElizabeth FoleyDenise FurnishTon’Nea GreenShohei KatayamaLori LarussoCharlotte Ann PollockMartin RollinsDavid ShinerSkylar Smith, and Alexander Taylor.

LVA is located at 1538 Lytle St, Louisville KY, (502) 584-8166, Viewable hours for the Last Flowers pop-up exhibition in April at LVA at will be:

Thurs. April 11th 5pm - 7pm (reception)
Fri. April 12th 12 - 4pm
Sat. April 13th 12 - 4pm
Monday April 15th 10am - 4pm
Tuesday April 16th 10am - 4pm

Wednesday April 17th 10am - 4pm

Thursday April 18th 10am - 4pm
Friday April 19th 12pm - 4pm 



Curatorial Statement:

Last Flowers is a forthcoming permanent exhibition at Hildegard House, a small non-profit in Louisville’s historic Butchertown that has since 2016 provided a comfortable and loving home for individuals at the end of life without home or family to die with dignity. Named after 12th-Century German Saint Hildegard of Bingen who was an herbalist, mystic, artist, and doctor, Hildegard House is the only facility in Kentucky of its kind to care for those who have no home or anyone to accompany them in the dying process. Volunteers called "Compassionate Companions" serve as family caregivers to talk with residents, help with their personal care, and hold their hands at the end of their lives–all completely without charge. Karen Cassidy, a palliative care nurse practitioner and founder and Executive Director of Hildegard House says that there is “wisdom in death,” and this exhibition will investigate that theme further with works by fourteen local artists installed throughout the property. The experiences of the current residents, staff, and volunteers who spend time in the spaces will inform the artwork selection process. Some works will be in shared spaces and will be viewable in person to the public during public events or by appointment, while some will be installed in private bedrooms and only viewable in person by residents and volunteers—all works will be viewable in an accessible online catalogue.

Like the residents that live at Hildegard House, the Louisville-based artists whose works have been chosen for this new collection come from diverse backgrounds, with a wide range of interests and styles. More than half are older adults. Paintings featuring landscapes (Alexander Taylor, Martin Rollins), bridges (David Shiner), and floral imagery (Tiffany Calvert, Lori Larusso, Terry Dunham, Ton’Nea Green, Elmer Lucille Allen) have been heavily favored for this collection, along with abstract paintings and drawings that contain round orbs of light, reminiscent of celestial bodies and the passage of time (Skylar Smith, Elizabeth Foley, Denise Furnish). Many of the works were chosen for their intrinsic relevance to the mission of Hildegard House: one touching work by Furnish is adorned with small beads that belonged to her friend, the artist Collis Marshall, who spent her last days there. A painting by local legend Gaela Erwin shows her own hand holding her mother’s in the moments after her mother’s death. Renowned installation artist Shohei Katayama is designing a work inspired by the recent loss of his father and by the herbal remedies of Saint Hildegard. All new works in both buildings will be marked accordingly as part of the Last Flowers collection, and installed with the aim of coexisting as harmoniously as possible with the unique surroundings and pre-existing art.

I’m grateful to everyone at Hildegard House who has shared a moment of their time or a word with me as I have researched for this project, and I thank them in advance for your additional patience and grace over the coming months as I work to install the collection throughout the two buildings. A temporary installation of painted flowers in the Hildegard on Story hallway has been an important part of the process--a wonderful gift from the students of Sacred Heart Model School and their teacher Eileen Yanoviak to help brighten the space while the permanent collection was being finalized.


The exhibition’s title refers to a collection of still life paintings called “The Last Flowers of Manet,” created by 19th century painter Edouard Manet while he was lying in bed at the end of his life. Each painting features a vase of flowers brought to the artist’s bedside by a different visitor; the true subjects of the paintings are not really the flowers, but the nuances of light, memory, or the unseen presence of a caring friend. 


~ Julie Leidner

This exhibition is part of the Curate, Purchase, Inspire (CPI) fellowship program, a program run by Louisville Visual Art (LVA) to benefit local artists and non-profits. More about the CPI program from the LVA website: 


"Each year, LVA will work to build a diverse committee of community arts leaders to choose two emerging local curators to spend six months working with a non-profit or public partner to identify local artists’ work for purchase and installation in publicly accessible spaces. For the purposes of this program, the “curator” applicants are not limited to formally trained or self-taught curators, but could also include artists, designers, writers, or others who are engaged in a creative practice. CPI will set Louisville apart from other cities by providing several unique benefits:

The local artists whose work is selected will benefit from the sales and be invited to participate in LVA’s professional development workshop series (ARS) that teaches fundamentals of art-related business practices. The non-profit partner will receive the art on permanent loan, with the provision that it must remain on display in a place where the public can view it and create a healing, contemplative, or inspiring space for visitors. LVA will also create a web-accessible catalog of the CPI artworks that can be viewed by the entire community. This catalog will provide viewers with further information about the art and the artist. To further increase the community impact, LVA will ask that program participants give a curator talk on their experience and the process behind their selections."

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