Joel Alexander Escobedo’s housemate hung roses off the light fixtures of their home. As the rose chandelier dried and became pale, Escobedo said this inspired him to create his own large-scale rose chandelier as an art installation to bring the student community together.
“They looked very pretty,” he said. “I’m sure that was a key mental image that helped ‘Bouquet’ evolve to what it is.”
Fifth-year art student Escobedo, who goes by and signs his artwork as Alex, invited people from the community to participate in the creation of “Bouquet.” The senior gallery show exhibited at the Eduardo Carrillo Gallery — a space designated for graduating art students to display their work — ran from March 9-15.
“[The show’s] participatory. It invites anybody and everybody. It requires people’s engagement to happen,” Escobedo said.
“Bouquet,” in its raw state, is a wooden grid hanging from a pulley system, a bucket of roses and a ball of yarn. “Bouquet” blossomed as people participated.
Roses and yarn were provided alongside instructions on how to participate.
Step 1: Measure out the length of your body with the flesh-tone yarn.
Step 2: Pick a light-pink rose from the provided bouquet.
Step 3: Tie one end of the yarn to the rose and the other end to one point on the wooden 100-point grid.
Each individual rose hung in its own unique way. Some roses were tied at the neck and suspended upright, while the majority were tied at the stem. The roses, each hung at varying lengths and tied with a hitch knot to a loop knot, represented the uniqueness each individual added to “Bouquet.”
Within the first hour, about 35 roses were already part of “Bouquet.” The piece, in its final form, was expected to have 100 roses hanging at different lengths from the ceiling.
“At the end you’ll have a bouquet hanging from the center,” said “Bouquet” creator Joel Alexander Escobedo. “But part of the whole thing is not knowing how it’s going to play out or look in reality.”
With only 35 roses on the grid at the time, fourth-year student Holly Eichrodt said she wanted to see the rest of the 100 roses in “Bouquet.”
“I like the aesthetic. […] It brings the community together,” Eichrodt said. “We all have been hanging out and talking so it brought a lot of people together to share this experience.”
The light illuminated the delicate pink tones of the developing “Bouquet.” The gentle sound of Trio Los Panchos — a Latin trío romántico musical group — echoed in the gallery as guests helped measure out each other’s height and one-by-one attached their rose to “Bouquet” in whatever style they chose.
The artist expressed part of the reason why “Bouquet” was happening was to unite different communities into a space and to share the same experience in a particular moment.
Fourth-year student Ezzie DeGiovanni expressed how compelling it was to participate in its creation.
“I love that it’s community-oriented and participatory-based,” DeGiovanni said. “It makes it all the more powerful.”
By the final morning, most of the roses occupied a space on the grid. The roses were limp and dried into a muted pink — almost white. Dehydrated leaves, once attached to roses, were scattered along the ground. Among the leaves, some roses had fallen off the apparatus and rested on the floor as the exhibit came to an end.
“After you measure out your body with the yarn and hang this rose that you pick from the bouquet, the rose then becomes a part of you,” Escobedo said.