Skip to main content

The Spring Bulb Show has historically been designed around a central artistic concept. In the spirit of reinvention and innovation, and in line with our mission to “facilitate collaboration” and encourage and “[train] students to be informed and impactful change agents,” we have initiated a new approach to this long-standing tradition. With the support of Lynne Yamamoto, Jessie Wells Post Professor of Art, we reimagined this artistic element to support and showcase student artwork by commissioning original artwork. This year’s installation, Botanical Imagination, was created by five student artists: Dan Dao ’24, Avery Maltz AC ’25, Yasmine/Yaz Porath ’24, Celosía Rae Tilghman ’24 and Finn Walsh ’25J. 

The prompt was inspired by the concurrently running exhibit on Sylvia Plath and asked the artists to reflect on, interpret and respond to the concept, botanical imagination. These themes offer narratives which when contextualized in conversation with the mass of flowering bulbs, aim to deepen and expand the viewer's experience.

Botanical Imagination includes four unique sculptural components and one audio component which was created using recordings of plant-generated electronic signals and which can be accessed via QR code and listened to on a smartphone. 

Meet the Artists

Dan Dao ’24

Dan Dao is a multi-disciplinary artist who is interested in intertwining digital art, photography, sound design, and installation art to explore themes of deconstruction, identity, memory, reality, and violence. Born in Vietnam, a first generation immigrant, Dan explores memory and world-building through their digital work. In Botanical Imaginations Dan has created an immersive soundscape experience by translating the intricate biorhythms of the bulbs throughout their different stages. Upon walking through our installation, one will be enveloped in the living sounds of plants, experiencing the beauty and interconnectedness of nature and humanity.

Dan Dao

Avery Maltz AC ’25

Avery Maltz is a plant ecologist and multimedia installation artist who explores biological cycles and human/plant relationships. Originally from New York City, he now spends his time in the trees of Western Mass contemplating reciprocity and complex systems. In Color Stream he invites the sunlight into the space as an active participant through the use of colored transparency sheets suspended above the bulb show. Over seventy hand-cut organic forms flow over the flowers, tossing vibrant colors around the room as the sun moves through the sky. By illustrating the movement of sunlight, he asks us to reimagine photosynthesis as a process of wonder and joy.

Avery Maltz

Yasmine/Yaz Porath ’24

Yasmine/Yaz Porath is an artist who enjoys playing with light and found objects to create interactive installations. Born in New York City and subjected to a childhood of constant moving, Yasmine is interested in building community through creation. As an employee of the Botanic Garden’s outdoor team, Yasmine loves getting their hands dirty and admiring the intricate universes within the stems and leaves and petals of the plants. Yasmine’s work with mirrors in this piece aims to create portals that connect the sky and ground to evoke the interconnectedness that allows the bulbs to flourish. The bulb show is already so magical and sensory, this installation hopes only to reflect that magic back to the viewer. 

yasmine porath

Finn Walsh ’25J

Finn Walsh is a multi-disciplinary artist with a focus on traditional craft and queer identities. They grew up in coastal Maine with a magical mother who wrote children’s books about fairies. Finn was often put to work making fairy houses, fairy pancakes and fairy wands to test out content for their mom’s books. After a teenage rebellion against anything fairy related, they have finally circled back to stories of magical creatures. This work celebrates the original nature of fairy tales, leaning into the dark and mischievous. The larger figural sculpture, the fairy queen, is an ode to Finn’s mother. She sits in the garden, wise and all-knowing. The five smaller sculptures hidden throughout the space represent the tradition of folklore. They speak to humanity's insistence on weaving stories to explain the small inexplicable happenings of nature. These happenings—equal parts mystical and spooky—include strange mounds, mushroom circles, dewey cobwebs pitched in the grass, dark and gnarled trees in the middle of a wood, or the way the wind picks up and sends a chill down the back of your neck. 

Finn Walsh

Celosía Rae Tilghman '24

Celosía is a multidisciplinary artist and designer studying the intersections of textiles, fashion and installation art with an emphasis on second-hand materials. Their work explores personal narratives of healing, trauma and community in relation to their queerness, and the ways that art can serve as a catalyst for self reflection. 

In We’re All Just Walking Each Other Home (After Ram Dass) Celosía calls on queer mycology, an approach to the study of fungi that mirrors queer theory’s exploration of fluidity as opposed to binary and normative ways of viewing the world. In “The Science Underground: Mycology as a Queer Discipline”, Patricia Kaishian explains that mycology is queer because it is disruptive, collective, transformative and revolutionary. 

Fungi are engaged in continual processes of renewal, interfacing with death and creating life through decomposition; they can repair environments by digesting fossil fuels and converting them into food, and absorb heavy metals and reactive materials. Fungi show us cooperative, alternative, promiscuous, entangled and interdependent ways of living worth studying, imitating and learning from. 

Visualized in this work are the tiny threads of a network of fungus intertwined with tree roots, called mycelium. This network connects individual plants together to transfer and share water, nitrogen, carbon, and other nutrients. Mother trees have the most fungal connections, as their roots are older and therefore established in deeper soil. Because she can reach deeper sources of water, the mother tree can then share her resources with the younger saplings to help them survive. Doesn’t that sound familiar? 

We are all interconnected, not just as humans, but as beings on this planet. Queer bodies, like fungi, cannot be neatly categorized or labeled. We defy current systems of power and oppression, along with rigid scientific understandings, by being sporadic, ephemeral and unpredictable, and prioritizing community above individualism. Kaishian sums it up perfectly: “It is past time that humans turn to the fungi to which we are bound, step into our mutual totality, and create space and futures for our wild ways of being.” 

c willison