The Iris Idea

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For the remainder of 2024, I will be creating 102 larger-than-life irises. Each sculpture will be constructed from recycled plastic, painted, and thermoformed into an iris. A volunteer caretaker will foster each iris during the creation phase, and in the spring of 2025, all irises and their caretakers will reunite for their debut. This is The Iris Idea.

The Iris Idea was born from several factors. The passing of a design icon, Iris Apfel, at the age of 102, the grief I still feel from the passing of my mom in 2019, and the loss of my little girl self. This idea is to remind myself of the joy that these three humans have brought to me and many others. I know that this Joy is still available, but it will take work to achieve. I believe that through this project, by honoring Iris, my mom, and myself that I will find Joy. 

Iris Apfel image.

Iris Apfel

design icon

Ngon Winters on the beach.

Ngon Winters

my mom

Snow Winters as a little girl scout.

Snow Winters

Girl Scout me, top right

In 2022 I had an exhibit titled "The Art of Joy", this is what I have learned from creating that series of paintings:

"Finding joy takes work. There is an art to navigating the turmoil and the mounds of negativity that swirl around us. We have to find the balance, notice the nuances, and remember what brings us joy. "

The Iris Idea goals:

Create 102 larger than life irises and debut all of them in the spring of 2025.

Create a network of caretakers that will foster an iris during the creation phase.

Bring all caretakers and their irises together for their debut and to celebrate the Joy we have all achieved.

Iris Gallery | Caretaker Form

About the irises

Each iris roughly measures 9” x 9” and are constructed from one gallon plastic water jugs. The petals are cut, painted with alcohol inks, thermoformed, and finally assembled into an iris. Now this former container has entered into it's butterfly stage.

Individual irises take a few days to make, and I anticipate completing three a week. Each one will be colorfully painted, inspired by real irises but also by whatever brings me joy.

Visit the Iris Gallery to find an iris to care for.

Studio table with number 3 in process.

Becoming a caretaker

Anyone can be a caretaker. I encourage you to participate if you like flowers, art, community, or need a little help finding joy. Your only responsibility during foster care is to remember what brings joy to you. I do encourage you to share images of your iris and stories on social media (Instagram @TheIrisIdea). I want us all to foster the Art of Joy.

At the end of The Iris Idea project, all caretakers and their iris will reunite for their debut in the spring of 2025. This culmination of irises and caretakers will be a celebration in recognition of everyone's contribution, the completion of The Iris Idea 2025, and the Joy we have all worked hard for. And as a thank you, each caretaker will become the permanent owner of their iris.

I will notify all caretakers by the end of 2024 of the details of the spring 2025 debut.

If this sounds like you, then fill out the Caretaker Form.

Frequently Asked Questions

I suggest that each caretaker choose no more than three irises. A Caretaker Form will need to be filled out for each iris. My goal is to share this work with many others.

Yes, you can! Fill out the Caretaker Form and indicate the iris number that you want to reserve.

If you are in the Northwest Arkansas area, I will deliver an iris; if you are outside of NWA in the U.S., then an iris can be mailed. I just ask that you cover shipping ($50 USD for delivery to you, to the debut, and then back to you). For caretakers outside the U.S., let’s talk.

I’ll fix it before the exhibit; just document with photos and some text about the damage so I know what will be required before the debut. Email me the info and I'll coordinate the repair plan. There's no need to share how it got damaged unless it’s a great story that you want to share!

I don’t have a specific place yet, so if you have a venue that would like to participate, please email me. I am open to various venues, but I need a place that 102 irises can be displayed and caretakers can celebrate. I will notify all caretakers by the end of 2024 of the details of the spring 2025 debut.

My goal will be to exhibit spring 2025. I will notify all caretakers by the end of 2024 of the details of the spring 2025 debut.

You can; art is my livelihood, so I do need to make some bank. They are $100 USD each, and that includes shipping in the U.S. (for orders outside the U.S., I will estimate a shipping cost). Fill out the Caretaker Form, and an invoice will be emailed to you.

I am using number 1 and 2 plastic water jugs and will post on and Facebook @SnowWintersDesigns when I need some and what shape I need. I currently have a steady supply.

Tag or invite as a collaborator The Iris Idea on Instagram @TheIrisIdea #TheIrisIdea #TheIrisIdea2025 #TheArtOfJoy #IrisJoy

Yes, an iris can be named in their honor. In the Caretaker Form, specify who will be the caretaker and who will be honored.

Yes, The Iris Idea is currently self-funded, and donations would be greatly appreciated to help complete this community art project. Donations can be made securely through PayPal, regardless of whether you have a PayPal account or not.