Our project will be centered around the production of 12, large-scale versions of the traditional Homecoming ‘Mum’ created by 12 Texas artists. While we will provide the basic, standardized wooden backing for the works, we are asking each artist to create a work inspired by traditional ‘Mum’ designs but with new takes on motif, theme, or message. The provided material will consist of a plywood round cut to have a diameter of two feet, and with pre-drilled holes for later installation of hanging materials.
The traditional ‘Mum’ consists of two main parts; first is the corsage itself, a large silk-flower made to resemble the chrysanthemum which is pinned to the shirt. Many choose to add to the center of the corsage by adding things like stuffed animals or plastic cartoon characters as a way to display personal style and tastes. The Mum is applied to a cardboard backing that also houses the ‘flair’ of the accessory. What is perhaps the real show-stopper of these adornments are the ribbons flowing from behind the flower, these wisps display your favorite team or your sweetheart and boast bells and charms that jingle loudly much to the dismay of many a high school teacher. Many Texas crafters know that when Summer rolls around, local craft stores will boast aisles and sections completely devoted to the phenomena; the supplies come varied and in a wide selection of tastes. This money-making venture is more tradition than fad in Texas.
Mothers and Daughters spend energy, time and resources on creating these spectacular showcases of spirit. Our project would celebrate this tradition by asking artists to re-visit the ‘Mum’ and give a breath of fresh air to this tradition sometimes reserved for the spirit-filled cheerleader, or football star. Homecoming Mums have become a tradition in Texas, an example of folklore cultivated by the people and continued by generations of spirited high-school aged young people. This exercise in ritual through a seemingly silly or juvenile tradition hopefully will produce results that are reflective, matured, and insightful, much like we hope our participants are regarded.
As part of bringing the Homecoming Mum into the mature sphere we will be collecting, documenting, performing interviews and synthesizing a catalogue that would chronicle this tradition. As part of the preparation we were surprised t find that very little academic writing on this extremely regional tradition. Hopefully by creating the pieces as well as archiving the regional folklore we can highlight something many people may never have experienced.
The finished pieces would become temporary public art installations, on display in cultural centers that agree to house the piece and understand the importance of this project. The display process would be modeled after the CowParade project here in Texas, where the painted cows represented a sense of pride and excitement about living here in this large and varied state and simply resided within open spaces in office buildings, museums, government centers, and cultural destinations. These creations will be recognized by many Texans as a tribute to past days and can impart the creativity of an artist’s hand to those who may not see the connection between family crafts and fine art.
These pieces produced by the artists would be on display in the Fall of 2013, during Football season, as a celebration of Houston’s great arts and sports community. At the beginning of 2013 we would began our initiative by creating a website and having a launch party that would display two prototype ‘Mums’ and celebrate a Texas tradition. From this time on we would have our artists working on the pieces in their studios, preparing for the coming football season. By July, we would like to have all the pieces completed, allowing time for a Grand Reveal of all twelve of the pieces, as well as time to install the pieces in their semi-permanent homes. The pieces would be on display until December 31, 2013.
Funded by Houston (September 2012)