New Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Exhibit Opens Doors to Springtime


Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden ushers in the spring season with a bright, bold display of
blooming artwork from Highland School of Technology art students. The new exhibit, Opening Doors to Spring, showcases the colorful doors alongside the Garden’s seasonal blossoms through mid-June.

Said John Searby, the Garden’s executive director, at the exhibit’s opening event in March, “This is a really unique artexhibit. The Garden prides itself on bringing art into the garden space and allowing you to experience art and nature together. That’s a really important part of this.”

Opening Doors to Spring features 20 decorated doors, each representing the artist’s interpretation of the seasonal garden theme. Students worked on projects of different sizes, shapes and mediums – shutters, glass panes and more – to bring a cohesive picture to the door surface.

Seventy-two students from the fine arts and engineering programs at the Gastonia, N.C., school contributed to the exhibit under direction from Highland School of Technology fine arts instructor Marty Hutchins. From display logistics to intricate designs amid varying art techniques, the students created masterpieces from the recycled doors, generously donated by the Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County. The doors blend into the Garden’s lush acreage with artful renditions of pollinators, big blooms, wildlife and other botanical imagery.

Students Morgan Spivey and Jonathan Woods spent three weeks creating their door together. They and other classmates shared remarks at the March occasion. “I learned a lot through this process, such as active problem solving, how to work on a tight deadline and how to divide a complex project and work as a team,” said Spivey, who painted the corpse flower (also known as titan arum), a rare odorous plant that blooms only once every seven-to-ten years, one of which is housed in the Garden’s Orchid Conservatory. “I never painted seriously before I took on this project so I was very nervous to start. But I learned a lot and I’ve created something that I never thought I was capable of.”

Students offered their appreciation to Hutchins and the Garden for the experience as well as the nuanced education it provided. Said freshman student Cornelia Okonkwo, “When Mr. Hutchins introduced our class to this project, I thought it was just another class assignment. I wasn’t overly excited and thought it would be easy to paint some flowers. It wasn’t …By the end of the semester, I learned more about myself, my classmates and my abilities than any other class had taught me before … I’d like to thank Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden for offering students at Highland the opportunity to turn stress and anxiety into a creative outlet.”

Opening Doors to Spring can be viewed during regular hours at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden through June 18. Learn more about this exhibit and others at