Bean Garden brings new art to St. Pete

The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg unveiled a new interactive installation last month called “The Bean Garden.”

Sitting in the center of the Atchison gallery is what appears to be a sand box.  The Bean Garden is filled with 2,500 pounds of dried great northern beans surrounded in a frame of solid juniper. It took about six museum employees to pour in all of the beans.

This interactive piece was created by Allison Knowles as part of the Fluxus movement, a period of art history that the museum hasn’t addressed before. According to MFA Curator Katherine Pill, it’s exciting for the museum to be able to fill in the gap of art history to showcase an incredible female performance artist.

“It is so cool to be able to feature a woman artist, it brings a lot to this museum,” Pill said.

The Bean Garden encapsulates a lot of the ideas of the Fluxus movement.  It is uniquely situated at MFA where usually you are not allowed to touch the artwork. Fluxus asks: who deems art? It says art is for everyone,  it should be treated as such. Employees expressed that it is an interesting statement to be exploring at the museum.

MFA borrowed this exhibit from a gallery in South Florida. According to Pill, the curator of the museum, Jade Dellinger, is an incredible source for Fluxus art.

“For Allison Knowles the artist, she was interested in the nourishment and the comfort that comes from food and its ability to bring people together.” Pill said.

Guests are invited to take off their shoes, put on the socks provided and then enter the installation, with  three people allowed to enter at a time. There is a sound box at the bottom of the Bean Garden. When you walk in it, it amplifies the sound made, casting a loud crunching sound that some find entertaining. 

Employees at the museum hope that there’s even a sense of camaraderie that comes over someone when they enter the exhibit. The Bean Garden was created to showcase an important message of art, but to also be a release of energy. When people enter the Bean Garden it brings them back to a “child-like” state. This was the artist’s intentions. The artists thought it was important for people to relax and have fun. She stressed that if you can combine the beauty of art and create a fun aspect then you have completed your mission.