Left: Behind Cafe Steam Broadway, Behind Rochester Art Center

Jess Hirsch | Prescription Gardens

Three outdoor locations: Click Here

As a hyper-anxious person, at one stage I became ill with an undiagnosable stomach
ailment. I was dropping weight and was often bedridden with unbearable nausea.
Knowing that my illness was spurred by stress, I feared for my body’s health when I
accepted the offer to attend the Masters in Fine Art program at the University of
Minnesota. I regained the 15 pounds I lost through chronic bouts of stomach pain and
headed to Minneapolis. When I started grad school, I also started attending Common
Ground Meditation Center. There I gained the skills to cope with stress. I have avoided
using Buddhism in my work for the past 7 years because of the tenuous relationship
between art and religion. I hope this work lies outside the realm of religion. I want to share
this philosophy that benefits our ability to understand emotions and has transformed how
I deal with stress and a thinking mind.

Prescription Gardens includes three outside gardens planted around Rochester.  Each one hosts plants that treat the mind states of greed, aversion, and delusion found within Buddhist
philosophy. When you enter a garden, a small bench beckons you. You sit amongst the
flowers and call a phone number. The plants growing before you are identifiable by small
placards. A voice on the phone leads you on a meditation that connects you to the plant.

Click here to see a map of the garden locations.

My experiential work invites the public to co-create sculptures through interaction. My
work is an invitation to experience the healing world through simple action and sculpture.
Within this method of working I like to directly communicate with the viewer, explore roles
of service provider, and build intimacy with strangers through objects or myself. The
sculptures appear ordinary and utilitarian, but are infused with holistic medicine. The
viewer is presented with the possibility of healing, bodily transformation, and provoked to
alter preconceptions of health without scientific backing, only experience. The ordinary
situation offers potential enchantment in the everyday.

Jess Hirsch has a Masters of Fine Art from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and a
Bachelors of Fine Art from Lewis and Clark University. She has received a Jerome
Emergining Artists Project Award and a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Inititiative. Jess
is the founder of Women’s Woodshop, a shared studio space educating women and
non-binary makers on the wonders of woodworking.