The last thing Portside Arts Center’s founding director, Kim Creighton, expected was a call from the Philadelphia Flower Show.
“They just called us out of the blue and asked us if we wanted to be in the flower show,” Creighton told the Star. “It was a really cool opportunity.”
Fast forward several months later and Creighton and Portside’s students have whipped up an interiorscape filled with recycled, repurposed and reused materials such as an old TV, a guitar, wooden panels and a bird cage.
“The kids all brought in something they wanted to use from their house,” said Creighton. “They also worked on all the windows with the epoxy and the dried flowers and they had a hand in everything here.”
It was 10-year-old Maya Lichtenstein’s idea to use a the guitar.
“I thought the hole where the sound comes out would be a good spot to put a plant,” she said. “Our teacher had a children’s size guitar that she doesn’t play so she brought it in. We took all the strings off and we put ivy in it and positioned the ivy so it looks like it’s eating up the neck of the guitar. It’s really cool.”
Charlie Tepper, 8, brought in a miniature toy lion in from home to use as a planter.
“We drilled a hole in it and put in a bunch of soil and put a plant in it,” he said.
Of course, it also includes lots and lots of foliage, namely some succulents, a couple different varieties of palm trees, ivy, ferns, amaryllis and curly willows.
“We worked with Meg [Debrito, executive director at] Greensgrow,” said Jesa Minnick, a teaching artist at Portside. “She worked with us to get a price for plants that we could afford.”
Creighton said she pulled the old TV out of the trash 15 years ago. Since then, it’s been used at Portside for a puppet theater.
Minnick said they’d been working on the project for about two months, and have been keeping the plants under a grow light downstairs.
“We had an impromptu greenhouse downstairs,” she said.
The interiorscape is also meant to fit in with the flower show’s “Riviera Holiday” theme this year.
Minnick said the children at Portside painted over recycled paper to create a Mediteranean, Mosaic-style look to aspects of the piece.
Along the way, the students did “plant journaling.”
“They wrote a little about their plant’s characteristics and gave them names,” Minnick said. “They set up their own watering schedule so that they can take care of the plants.”
When asked how 8-year-old Clementine Najera-Manthey felt about having her class’s work seen by so many people, she said she was “nervous” about it.
“It makes me nervous, really,” she said, smiling. “There’s so many people!”
Kira Moragne, 8, said that her favorite part was planting the plants.
The interiorscape will be on display at the Philadelphia Flower Show until March 8.