Springtime in Washington, DC often signals a time to venture outside, to slow down, and take note of our surroundings, perhaps notice something new. For those strolling through the neighborhood around SAAM, a cherry blossom-shaped sculpture outside our entrance on F Street is a place to rest your eyes and your legs. Part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s inaugural “Art in Bloom” event, the cherry blossom sculpture Cherry Garden by artist Rashin Kheiriyeh is one of 25 that double as chairs sprinkled throughout DC and the neighboring areas.
Nora Atkinson, the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge for the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, served as a member of the selection committee. Atkinson and five other members of the committee selected 25 local and national artists to design giant cherry blossom sculptures for the 2021 festival. From March 20 through May 31, area visitors and residents can go on a scavenger hunt to find these giant sculptures. The new “Art in Bloom” event is a unique festival project committed to making public art accessible, with city-wide engagement, enhancing artist and viewer experiences.
Kheiriyeh drew inspiration for Cherry Garden from the love story of Layla and Majnun. She says about the sculpture, “As an Iranian American artist who lives in East Capitol Hill in DC, Spring and cherry blossom season are always inspiring to create arts. The technique I used to design my sculpture Cherry Garden is acrylic. I have been inspired by traditional Persian art and influenced by beautiful patterns of the Persian rugs to paint the birds and flowers in my sculpture. My idea was to blend the traditional Persian art with a modern western graphic style.”
Check out Cherry Garden in front of SAAM at 8th and F Streets, NW, and find a map to plan your visit to the rest of the “Art in Bloom” chairs this spring.
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Rashin Kheiriyeh was born in Iran. She received a doctorate in illustration and a master’s degree in fine art in graphic design from Alzahra University in Tehran. She has published more than 80 children’s books in countries around the world, and has created illustrations for The New York Times and Google. Rashin was named a 2017 Maurice Sendak Fellow and was the winner of the New Horizon Award at the Bologna Book Fair. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
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