Last Flowers (Working Title)
Forthcoming permanent exhibition to be held at the Hildegard House, Louisville KY
Last Flowers (Working Title) is a forthcoming permanent exhibition at the Hildegard House, a small non-profit in Louisville’s historic Butchertown that has for seven years provided a comfortable and loving place for people without means to die with dignity. Named after 12th-Century German Saint Hildegard of Bingen who was an herbalist, mystic, artsit, and doctor, the Hildegard House is the only facility in Kentucky of its kind to care for those who have no one to accompany them in the dying process. Volunteers and two staff members serve as family caregivers to talk with residents, help with their hospice care, and hold their hands at the end of their lives–all completely without charge. Karen Cassidy, a former palliative care nurse practitioner and founder and Executive Director of the Hildegard House says that there is “wisdom in death,” and this exhibition will investigate that theme further with works by local artists installed throughout several interior and exterior spaces on the property. The experiences of the current residents, staff and volunteers who inhabit 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.
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.
The 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."