Arts, Features

High-flying daffodils add to marathon spirit in Seaport


Swaying in colorful unison, 20 large nylon daffodils flutter over the Seaport Common to celebrate the Boston Marathon and welcome the emergence of spring. Designed by artist Daniele Frazier, the art project “20 Knots: Daffodils for Boston” opened April 8 and runs through the end of the month.

Every year since the marathon bombings in 2013, daffodils — thousands of which have been planted along the entirety of the marathon route, and thousands more of which are placed in the windows of businesses across Boston — have become a local symbol of resilience and strength.

The bright yellow flowers were first planted in the aftermath of the attacks in 2013 by Marathon Daffodils, an initiative led by Boston horticultural organizations, according to Runner’s World.

Debra Brodsky, senior head of marketing for the Seaport, said the “20 Knots” project seemed fitting for the Seaport neighborhood because it is a new and upcoming part of Boston.

“[It] feels only natural to extend the heartwarming Marathon Daffodil program to the area,” Brodsky said. “It physically links Seaport to the city and only adds to the impact of the already powerful concept.”

The Seaport commissioned Frazier to create the high-flying Daffodils in March, each of which is fixed to a slender 20 foot-long pole and moves with the wind.

Frazier described her creation as a powerful tribute to the spring season’s conquest over winter and one that allows viewers to observe the constantly changing wind patterns.

“Although the piece is exuberant and joyful, it simultaneously encourages contemplation,” Frazier said. “The wind serves as a force that animates the flowers — invisible, seemingly magical and mysterious — yet an ever-present aspect of our lives and environment that we do not typically think about.”

Jack Skelley, a freelance videographer who filmed the public artwork “20 Knots” for the Seaport, was present during the installation of the daffodils.

“I was here when they were building it the other day, and it was kind of a mess,” Skelley said. “It was in the pouring rain, and [Frazier] came from New York. She was trying to get all these up, and the wind was blowing and everything. It was freezing cold, it was crazy.”

Saturday was the first day since the installation’s rainy release that weather was conducive to its display. What began as an overcast, rainy morning soon became a sunny and warm spring afternoon, drawing in many visitors to the Seaport Common.

Alec Spivack, 26, of the West End, teaches yoga in the Seaport and stumbled upon the daffodils Saturday morning after finishing her classes.

“I had no idea about it,” Spivack said. “This morning it was super crummy out and really gloomy. I taught three classes this morning, and then I finished the third one, and all of a sudden it was sunny outside. Then I ran into this, and it was really cool. It was like the cherry on top.”

The transition from gloom to bloom Saturday bolstered the installation’s reception, several other visitors said.

Ashland Stansbury, 22, of Hingham, said the daffodils’ presence was encouraging of the transition from winter to spring.

“You can tell the grass and the trees aren’t quite there yet, but it’s encouraging Boston to transform into the next season,” Stansbury said. “They look more full and complete when the wind is stronger, so it’s almost like the more pressure and tension that comes against them, the more beautiful they are.”

Spivack said the colorful daffodils contrasted with the more neutral palate of the surrounding structures.

“I really like the color and how it stands out with all of these different buildings that are here,” Spivack said. “I feel like a lot of these buildings, if you look around, a lot of them are monochrome, they’re all white and gray.”

Stansbury noted the close proximity of each flower as being indicative of Boston’s collective strength.

“The first thing I notice is that they’re all in unison and blowing in the same direction,” Stansbury said. “That kind of symbolic of standing in unison — they can only grow together, they can’t grow separately.”

“20 Knots” serves not only as a reflection of spring’s arrival, but as an expression of “Boston Strong,” according to Brodsky.

“Can you imagine something more spring-like than giant flowers? In dreaming up this installation, our team could not,” Brodsky said. “It’s wonderfully literal — but also powerful in its scale. And with the flowers being executed as daffodils, the power extends to the marathon and its own connections to those blooms.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article online, as well as a version published in print on April 16, mislabeled Debra Brodsky’s title as director of marketing for the Seaport, when she is in fact the senior head of marketing for the Seaport. An updated version online reflects this change.

Comments are closed.