The Devotion of the Sunflower

Sculpture: The Devotion of the Sunflower

Devotion of the Sunflower

Close up view of Devotion of the Sunflower

Artist: Yolanda GutiérrezArtist Yolanda Guitierrez

From Cozumel, Mexico, Yolanda Gutiérrez Acosta is part of a growing movement of artists addressing habitat issues in their work.

Using reeds, shells and organic materials found on site, Gutiérrez creates large floating sculptures which rest like enormous serpents and serve as habitat for sea birds. She also works in her studio using found (and often natural) materials to explore coastal themes and myths.

In 1995 a wildlife reservation on the island of Cozumel off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula inspired a major project by the artist called "Santuario" (Sanctuary). "Two successive hurricanes had devastated the area, alarming biologists who feared native birds might not return to the area if nesting materials were not available. Working closely with biologists from the Mexican Ministry of the Interior, Gutierrez created nesting structures that successfully drew the birds back to their native shores."

One of her other works, "Umbral", is an installation of 28 pairs of cattle jawbones placed to resemble a flock of birds in flight. The traditional Mexican skeleton is transformed overhead. Bones become birds as they sweep upwards. According to the artist, "A new cycle of life emerges from the death of another. Death is not the end but a transition from one life to the next." Her exploration of our larger relationship with the natural world as well as the coastal issues of her home in Cozumel make Gutiérrez's art a welcome voice.

To contact Ms. Gutiérrez, email or visit her website (in Spanish) at

Artist's Statement

Yolanda Gutiérrez, 2003

Since the birth of humanity, the sun has been an object of adoration as one of the principle deities of land-based cultures. It comforts us with its heat, gives energy to every living being on the surface of the Earth, and its rhythmic cycles gives us a sense of time - a most important measurement in the development of all cultures. The sunÕs generosity reaches every aspect of our lives.

The artistic work that we have created in the South Carolina Botanical Garden is intended to invite the guests to experience a portion of the landscape that we have transformed into a garden for relaxation and contemplation. I hope guests will delight in all that surrounds them, in being wrapped in a pleasant landscape of elevations with rolling profiles that are embraced by forests and blanketed by the warmth of the sun.

This "center" follows the geometric pattern that we find in the heart of sunflowers. The installation is comprised of a series of rammed-earth elements in the form of half-circles that repetitively follow the form of radial spirals, giving the impression that they expand outward toward the space that surrounds them. In the same way that the sun radiates its light and warmly touches our skin, this sculpture caresses and follows the surface of the slope. It will seasonally be painted orange with brown-eyed susans and perfumed with the freshness of the rosemary and oregano that surround the radiating pieces of clay. It is on this molded, native clay that we will be able to rest, play or walk while allowing ourselves to be carried by the rhythmic coming and going of the spirals that remind us that sacred geometry exists. It also invites us to reflect on natural miracles, like that of the sunflower, which day-by-day wisely contemplates the greatness of its king.

Current Appearance

April 2006

Devotion of the Sunflower in April 2006

Garden staff regularly install new drought-tolerant plants in the sculpture.