Sunflower House was commissioned in 2006 as part of Dwelling, an exhibition funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding provided by the Boston Foundation for Architecture and individual donors.

Jim Coates
Sunflower House

Wood, wire, concrete,
sunflower plants

A symbolic shelter — a house outlined in gathered sticks — overflows with growing sunflowers. It contains a single chair, offering a welcoming place for rest and reflection. As the sunflowers grow, blossom, and go to seed, the space will be transformed into a haven nestled into the brilliant color and fragrance of a living garden, ripening with the seasons.

Artist's Statement
Over the past ten years I have produced a number of installations dealing with the fragile relationship between nature and our dependence on dwellings (both physically and psychologically). Recently, I have turned to a more personal interpretation, which has evolved to include the nurturing qualities of the open woodland landscape. As numerous poets and environmentalists have acknowledged, gardens and woodlands have the profound ability to shelter and comfort.

The garden-style setting and arboretum mission of Forest Hills Cemetery inspired this installation, a living space that invites contemplation and lingering reflection. The sense of place is defined by a single chair for resting, contained within a lace-like structure with sunflowers growing throughout the surrounding walls. Sitting within the Sunflower House, the viewer experiences a sense of private quiet.

Because it is a living space, viewers are encouraged to visit more than once, over time. Initially, new sunflower growth may suggest youth. Later, the flowers’ mature growth will reflect environmental changes and the patterns of life. The seemingly tenuous structure is a metaphor for the fragile relationship between nature, the elements, and the passing of time.

For more information on Jim Coates, please visit his site at the UMASS Lowell Art Department Faculty Site.

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