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Zenos FrudakisZenos Frudakis| Longwood Gardens| Adaptable Clothing

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Zenos Frudakis| Longwood Gardens| Adaptable Clothing

Zenos Frudakis

Philadelphia features a rich tradition of public art that can be found throughout the city and even in some of its most unexpected locations. The city of brotherly love displays over 788 sculptures, fountains, mosaics and memorials; there are 250 pieces of sculptures within Park & Recreation facilities alone. In this way, Philadelphia honors both tradition and legacy through art. In this segment, Suzanne sits with award-winning figurative sculptor and national treasure, Zenos Frudakis to discuss how his life work has immortalized his perceptive of life.  

Zenos Frudakis’ father immigrated from Greece to Gary, Indiana. Zenos began his sculpting as a child under his family’s kitchen table where he would mold dough that his mother would give him. Before he could even speak, Zenos realized that his best form of expression was non-verbal and knew he would one day become an artist. Even today, Zenos believes that language can sometimes become bias through clichés; he feels that he can share his view of the world more directly though his visual work. Zenos attended the University of Pennsylvania where he received his BFA and MFA. The internationally-recognized artist explains that the best way from him to learn art was through traditional mentorships. Like many artists before him, Zenos feels that learning directly from artists of previous generations, or those who studied under them, is important because no artist can learn all they need to know from just one lifetime. Zenos’ mentor was his brother, Evangelos Frudakis; who studied with a student of the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Zenos Frudakis is best known for his sculpture, “Freedom” which can be found on 16th and Vine Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In this interview, Zenos explains why Freedom is so important to him and what his hopes are for viewers that stand inside the open sculpture. Like most of Zenos’ work, Freedom was molded with a unique form plastaline clay and casted in bronze. The clay that the artist uses was the same clay used to make the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. By using this unique medium, Zenos feels a connection to the history and tradition of sculpting. Freedom is just one of over a hundred life-size statues created by Zenos. Some of Frudakis’ other works can be found all over the world; from Japan, England and African, Zenos Frudakis’ influence stretches all throughout the globe.  

Longwood Gardens 

Longwood Gardens features breathtaking botanical gardens and fountains located right in Philadelphia’s backyard. Situated in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens beholds more than 11,000 different types of plants across 1,100 acres of beautifully-maintained grounds. Suzanne sits with the Executive Director of Longwood Gardens, Paul Redman, to learn more about their dazzling fountains, beautiful plants and great programs.

Longwood Gardens began with the vision of one man: Pierre S. du Pont. Pierre du Pont purchased Longwood’s initial land in 1906 from a Quaker family. The historic trees on that property were going to be cut down, and Pierre had a calling to save them. The gardens are perfectly situated in Kennett Square, a beautiful area close to both Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia. Pierre du Pont was an engineer, and he successfully designed Longwood Gardens to have the greatest collection of fountains in North America. The gardens consist of over 11,000 plants from all around the world across 1,100 acres; 500 of those acres are open for guests to explore freely. 

As an Executive Director, Paul says he’s responsible for running the entire operation for their 1.3 million guests per year. They have 700 employees and 800 volunteers, with an operating budget of $55 million. Longwood has employees from all different trades like engineering, plumbing, auto-mechanics, and horticulture. Their horticulture professionals grow and maintain flowers and travel the world looking for unique, never-before-seen plants. A team of integrated plant managers are constantly monitoring plant health for threats like foreign pests and diseases. When a threat is identified, they immediately address the problem using organic control, always making chemicals a last resort. Longwood is committed to education and the development of next-generation horticultural leaders. Each year, 45,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade visit the gardens. Title-1 school children receive paid-for bussing and admission fees. Paul believes that the biggest challenge in running Longwood Gardens is thinking about the future and how to maintain the visitor’s beautiful experience. He never wants to compromise the “world-apart experience” that is offered to every guest during their visit to the amazing botanical gardens at Longwood. 


Adaptable Clothing

Mindy Scheier is an accomplished fashion designer and mother of a son with a rare disability that requires him to wear leg braces. His disability made it impossible for him to fit into regular jeans. So, being the awesome mom and inventive designer that she is, Mindy created adaptive jeans to accommodate his leg braces. Today, Mindy is the Founder of the Runway of Dreams Foundation, an organization that works to make mainstream fashion inclusive and accessible for the disability community. 

 Mindy Scheier was a stylist for renowned fashion outlets like Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. She’s the mom of three beautiful children, and her middle child, Oliver, suffers from a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Muscular dystrophy causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass, and at 11-years-old, Oliver wears leg braces daily. Oliver always struggled to dress himself, but didn’t want to wear “special” clothing to accommodate his disability. Mindy started Runway of Dreams for people like Oliver, who have a disability, yet still want to wear the same clothing lines as their peers. Runway of Dreams works with top brands and retailers to modify mainstream clothing to be wearable for the differently-abled population.

 Mindy discovered that the biggest challenges differently-abled people experience while dressing themselves are getting in and out of their clothing, securing the closures, and finding clothing that fits differently-shaped bodies. Runway of Dreams not only creates adaptive clothing to address these challenges, but strives to educate the fashion industry on the enormity of the differently-abled population. Runway of Dreams has worked with brands to sell adaptive lines with the same exact styles as the designer’s mainstream collection, but with modifications like magnetic closures, adjustable waistbands, and pantleg openings to account for prosthetics and braces. Mindy's goal is that adaptive clothing will be available to older adults and seniors as well. Runway of Dreams’ mission is to make fashion inclusive for all. Differently-abled or not, everyone wants the option to wear the same styles as their peers. Just as most mainstream designers offer a petite or plus-size department, Mindy hopes to introduce an adaptive department to all major fashion lines. Runway of Dreams has made it possible for people like Oliver to feel “normal.” There’s nothing more powerful than a mom on a mission, and the impact Runway of Dreams has had on the fashion industry is proof! 

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