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BOSTON GLOBE- 15-foot-tall flower statues to bloom on Northeastern’s campus

A new exhibit by Bay State artist Cicely Carew will plant its roots at the university next week

By Henry Bova Globe Correspondent,Updated April 16, 2024, 3:24 p.m.

Spring is in full swing, and Northeastern University is getting in on the seasonal fun by bringing a bit of flower power to campus.Starting Monday — which also happens to be Earth Day — the university will begin installation for “Rooted,” a new art exhibit on Krentzman Quad facing Huntington Avenue. The exhibit features five multi-colored flower sculptures that each stand nearly 15 feet tall and will, quite literally, be rooted on the school’s Boston campus for the next three to five years.Cicely Carew, the Cambridge-based artist behind the sculptures, considers herself a nature lover, and through a partnership with Northeastern, wanted to make something that felt connected to the surrounding natural elements while tying into the university’s horticultural department. She hopes the flowers bring a feeling of wonder and enchantment to campus.

“I’m primarily just thinking about love,” she told the Globe in a phone interview Tuesday from her studio in Waltham. “What’s a loving gesture that I can create in the world? Can I create something that feels like what nature already gives us?”

The flowers are made of a mix of outdoor construction materials, including aluminum mesh, steel, and acrylic, and have taken nearly two months for Carew to construct. She trusts her sculptures will withstand the harshest Boston weather, but embraces the fact that some aspects of the art may physically change with the seasons.

“They are meant to be organic forms in concept, but also literally, there will be some change that will happen,” she said. “That’s just a natural cause [from] being outside in the elements. It’s made to be protected from that, but I suspect color will change, and I think that will be kind of beautiful as other plant life changes too.”

“Rooted” arrives at Northeastern as part of the university’s ongoing Public Art Initiative to brighten up the Boston campus with murals, sculptures, and more from local and global artists.

“This is making this campus a growing, open museum,” said Northeastern president Joseph E. Aoun. “You can access this art day and night.”

It was particularly important for Aoun to install the sculptures ahead of graduation events in order to provide a vibrant backdrop for photos on Krentzman. He is excited for what the installation will add to campus.

“It’s beautiful,” he said. “It’s a symphony of colors and forms.”

This is Carew’s largest outdoor installation and the most visible piece she’s made to date. While the physical construction of the flowers differs from her previous work — for instance, she needed to build the sculptures in multiple phases — Carew said her creative process didn’t change, even knowing her work would be viewed by a larger audience of students, visiting families, and passersby.

“The gift is when this reaches one person,” she said. “You can work to satisfy millions or thousands, but if it resonates with one person, then I feel like I’ve done my job.”

Henry Bova can be reached at


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