The title of Arlington Museum of Art’s new show is Mumentous: The Upsizing of a Texas Tradition, and that first word is not a typo. It refers to the peculiarly Texas tradition of teenage boys giving girls mums at homecoming dances. For those of you who came to Texas as adults and don’t have kids of high-school age, mums are only tangentially related to chrysanthemums, the Chinese flower that holds sacred meanings in East Asian cultures. Mums are corsages that initially contained chrysanthemums, either real or fake, but over the decades have become giant ornaments festooned with ribbons, stuffed animals, and all manner of bells and whistles (including actual bells and whistles). To quote a Wall Street Journal headline about the subject, “You don’t wear the corsage. It wears you.”
Amy J. Schultz has put up a multimedia installation about this Lone Star State tradition, which includes information on the not-all-that-reciprocal tradition of girls giving boys garters to wear around their arms that match the mums the girls are receiving. The AMA’s artist-in-residence, a Florida transplant herself, learned about mums as she documented them, and now she has created a distinctive show for the museum.
Mumentous: The Upsizing of a Texas Tradition runs Fri thru Nov 24 at Arlington Museum of Art, 201 W Main St, Arlington. Admission is $5-8. Call 817-275-4600.