Author Archives: Cynthia Gehrie

About Cynthia Gehrie

As a botanical artist, I am inspired by the natural world, and search for techniques of representation and expression. As a professional documenter, I use photography, video, field notes, and qualitative methods to record naturally occuring events, which I return to for reflection and analysis. My work has expanded over the years to include evaluation of arts integration and early childhood grants in universities and early childhood centers. The purpose of this journal is to record and reflect on the relationship between my work as artist and as documenter/evaluator.

Idea of Flock House, data summary – Question 2

Seven question findings – Preliminary

2. Would you like to spend time in a Flock House?

a. 60 visitors to the Flock House Omaha Exhibit either examined the NYC Flock House on display and answered the questions at a table next to the Flock House, or entered the NYC Flock House. It was set up as a studio where they used the 7 questions sheet, pens, drawing boards, drawing materials and model building materials. Fifty said they would like to spend time in a flock house. Most responded with a simple “Yes” or “Yes!” Some responded with “Sure,” “Absolutely,” “Most likely,” “Sounds like fun,” and “I would like to.”

Five responded “No.” Their reasons were that the Flock House “looks dirty,” “looks cold,” (has) “no door,” (is) “exposed,” “exhibitionistic,” and “without the pleasure of security.”

Three responded “maybe,” one “probably,” and one did not respond.

Since 50 out of 60 wanted to spend time in a Flock House, I take this as strong evidence that Flock House is an idea with appeal. It is closely associated to other structures with strong appeal such as a hut, play house, cabin, tent, teepee, gypsy cart, covered wagon, tiny house, Etc. These structures resonate with expectations that are both adventuresome and atmospheric

Some who said yes, also qualified their enthusiasm for spending the night. It might depend on “weather conditions,” it would    be “temporary” only, “it would have to be set up inside, and security issues would need to be explored.”

b.  Forty visitors strongly desired to spend time in a Flock House. However, other a positive responses were filtered by the physical situation in which they envisioned inhabiting a Flock House. These filters divided into Nature filters, Conditions filters, and Atmosphere filters.

Nature filters: These linked to a natural form or to camping as an outdoor activity. Six natural forms are: “a more natural setting” “by the lake,” “under a huge tree,” “In the woods,” “in a field,” and “mountains. Three camping filters are: “camping” “substitute for a tent,” and “camp out.”

Conditions Filters are qualifications about inhabiting a Flock House. They reflect the attempt to envision how it might be, and how it might fit into one’s life. Five filters are: “if diminished belongings, possible live here,” “but not as a permanent habitat,” “I need to think about what I would do to pass the time, “I’d want at least a week. To gain the full experience,” and “I want one in my back yard!”

Atmosphere filters were A place to accomplish and Context/state of mind.

A place to accomplish filters are: “Having something you want to do there,” “See what it feels like,” “An experience I have not had before,” “read a book,” “art making,” and “a home.”

 Context/State of mind filters are: “being alone,” “being with other artists,” “clear the mind,” calm place of   contemplation,” and “to lounge.”

c. Visitors who responded to this question sometimes added observations about the Flock House as a structure. Some contemplated how its features might impact their experience.

As a structure: Observations are: its “exposure to weather,” it “would glow at night,” “would be cold, and “seems a bit too open to the public.” Also, it “sounds like fun.”

 The adaptations identified by inhabitants included changes in life-style, personal response, hesitations, and making a final determination about staying in a Flock House.

 Adaptations for inhabitants are that a Flock House “requires less belongings for living.” The inhabit will “go back to basics of life,” and “be vulnerable.”

 One personal response to these adaptations is: it is “someplace to relax and unwind.” Another is “I think I would be more productive, more physical.”

 Hesitations to commit to staying in the Flock House echo the filters expressed section “b” (above). “What would I do there?” I am so used to my bed and lifestyle.” “I need certain degree of comfort and would need to feel safe.”

 Yet, others used this question to declare, definitively, their commitment to staying there, or the adaptations they required from the Flock House.

I definitely would – homeless at this time anyhow. So commitment is no problem (smiley face)

I wouldn’t like at night, the sides being too exposed. I think I would use canvas fabric instead of as it was to stay at NYC (Flock House).

I’d love to take a house into a more natural setting. Such as the mountains and use it as a sort of tent.

Idea of Flock House, data summary – Question 1

Seven question findings – Preliminary 

60 visitors to the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts responded to “7 questions” and designed a Flock house using either a drawing or paper model

a. Visitors to the New York City Flock House, included in the Flock House Omaha Project gallery, readily associated to 36 structures from their experience, memory, knowledge or imagination. They identified play structures from childhood (11), mobile structures (8) mobile vehicles (2), live-in structures (10) and objects from the natural world (5).

Play structures from childhood: club house (2), jungle gym, climbing structure on playground (2), play structure, fort, tree house, backyard Glory Days playhouse, Cinderella’s pumpkin coach (2), “Childhood structures. I made of logs, bricks, etc. the countless hours I spent revisiting them, fantasizing within them and spending time in them.”

Mobile structures: covered wagon (4), stage coach, gypsy caravan, gypsy living, horse-drawn wagon

Mobile vehicles: vehicle, raft

Live-in structures: teepee, teepee crossed with igloo, teepee hut, tent (2), space house, not home w/ mortgage, home, yurt, tiny house movement

Objects: pumpkin, shell, dice, driftwood, warm egg

These associations represent a playful and fanciful response to Flock House, mobile structures that are not urban, living structures that are not urban or a “home w/ mortgage,” and natural “organic” objects.

b. Visitors associated to 27 environments or activities in which they envisioned a Flock House situated. They envisioned a Flock House situated in a future setting (8), outdoors in connection with natural settings (7), in recreation and learning areas (6), and in memory (2), metaphor (1), and a body feeling/activity (3)

Flock House situated in a future setting: future living “it would work well for the future where there will be less space” (3), travel in space (2), living in space, dystopian art, Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome

Situated outdoors in connection with natural settings: camping (4), global resource stewardship, traversing the wild wild west, native Americans. Their homes were able to move freely.

Recreation and learning areas: playground (2), story time, school ground. “A space like this on a school ground would breed such creativity. It also brings consideration for the current state of our world (use/waste) and how to reimagine it all.” “place to chill-out – escape stress”, Burning Man

Memory: wood furniture we had when I was a child, good memories of warm nights on the couch watching documentaries

Metaphor: rolling dice

Body feeling/activity: floating, sailing, Looks like it has sails

These associations are connected to a vision of future living, space, natural areas, learning environments, and movement. Visitors provided 43 descriptors for the NYC Flock House structure. This language described Flock House design (18), materials (8), a feeling or personal response invoked (10), and insights into the nature of the structure (7).

c. Visitors provided 43 descriptors for the NYC Flock House structure. This language described Flock House design (18), materials (8), a feeling or personal response invoked (10), and insights into the nature of the structure (7).

Design: little or no facade, simplicity, experimental, symmetry structure, easily assembled, strong, changeable for weather, back support, can hold several people, platform and free form design, and geometric (2) Changes: make it swing in the wind, somehow. More moving parts, and more soft objects. (4) very elegant, could be wind-powered

Materials: exposed metal & wood, new used, white & natural wood tones, stained glass, recycled, fabric for shelter or sail, white fabric

Feelings of personal responses: intriguing & mystical, open & free, purity, provocative, transitional, adaptive, beautiful curves in lines of wood, nostalgic, revolutionary, intriguing

Insights into the nature of Flock House: radical & useful, migrate, temporary, weightless structure that has mean to always move, Cool and unique idea, nomadic

These descriptors focus on Flock House as exposed materials, pure form built for mobility and adaptability. It uses strong design line and geometric elements achieved thorough recycled materials, which can be synthetic, natural, or repurposed. It is affiliated with beauty and innovation, creativity, and open to future needs and possibilities. It is temporary and mobile.

d. Visitors provided 37 descriptors for the “atmosphere” they felt when viewing the Flock House in the exhibit, or when entering the Flock House to complete their 7 questions and design a Flock House using drawing and model building materials available. In a discussion of the atmosphere one visitor said, “You come in and feel the structure.” These descriptors expressed as nature of the structure (12), a visitor’s internal response (11), the external – interactive potential of the structure (9), how internal and external combine to create an atmosphere which is “secluded but also togetheness”, and the zone to which the Flock House belongs (5).

The atmosphere described as evoked by structure: pure, airy, simple, rolling in any direction, somewhat cold/industrial feel, cozy, close, beauty, shelter, fantasizing, spending time and revisiting.

The atmosphere experienced internally is: calm (2) contemplative, safe, protecting, fun, free, floating, sailing, “makes me happy.” glad I have the chance to be inside one now (after writing a paper about the Flock House Project)

The interactive potential is felt in an atmosphere of: exploration, engagement, and inviting (2). It is felt as “space to re-imagine” and of adventure, welcoming

The atmosphere belongs to zones: “connected to the future”, mystical, inhabited by a creator (with agency), who engage as “genies in a bottle.” Very organic

These descriptors point to a space of comfort and neutrality where residents find support for creative work because it is safe, supporting open thought. Here, one can embark into new territory and the adventure of envisioning.

Palimpsest VI – emblem

Emblem, Palimpsest project - Flock House Omaha

Emblem, Palimpsest project – Flock House Omaha

This is the emblem for our Palimpsest project, inspired by the Maple leaf. Five separate leaves fused to become the Maple leaf we recognize.

The emblem goes back in time to the process by which five separate leaves fused into a single expression. It pushes the concept of palimpsest from noun to action – the process by which pieces and layers integrate into a complex system or organism.

I incorporated this emblem into Palimpsest project compositions. Visit the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts  Flock House Project for descriptions and images of Inhabiting Flock House Omaha.

Silver Maple Leaf

Silver Maple Leaf



Last 3 Flock House Designs – Research project on idea of Flock House, July 2014

FW, Circular Flock House design

FW, Circular Flock House design

Circular Design

This design uses concentric circular layers. Rooftop gardens are accessed through a trap door in the roof. A rain water trap and containment barrel connects to a system of hoses to water gardens on three levels.

Inside, a ladder reaches the trap door in the roof. There is a wooden walkway between the first and second layer. Skylights between the third and top layer admit natural light.

The Flock House has galvanized shell /reclaimed rubber.

Sensory tent Flock House

Sensory tent Flock House

Sensory tent Flock House

This designer suggested “Do nothing much actively – use your senses.” in the Flock House.” Such as “listen o sounds of surroundings, feel wind & movement of tent, smell city/food/materials, see a. eyes closed – your minds eye and b. eyes open – roof of tent, relax, repeat.”

The tent structure hangs and “sways in the wind.”

The designer suggest we “decorate with objects that catch light & move in wind and are fragrant.”



Flock House encoded with plants, door, windows, top feature and sparkles.

Julia Dyche, Shenandoah, IA at Bemis Center, Old Market

Julia Dyche, Shenandoah, IA.

Julia Dyche, Shenandoah, IA.

Julia Dyche writes that the Flock House reminds her of “Childhood Structures I made of logs, bricks, etc. and the countless hours I spent revisiting the. Fantasizing, within them and spending time in them.”

To equip a Flock House, she suggests “Rain water collection, for one. Simple solar system, portable compost system – suspended perhaps, gardens-containers.” She notes that a vertical “structure for plants” means “minimal earth required.”

For materials, she suggests “all the garlic tops material from our recent garlic harvest – woven.”

Her contributions. “Artist – paint, some construction – help – creativity – 29 years art teacher. Husband would be terrific collaborator, creative plumber, gardener, ornithologist.”


Emily Fruth, metal smith – greenhouse Flock House – Bemis Center, Old Market

Emily Fruth - Pyramid Flock House Greenhouse

Emily Fruth – Pyramid Flock House Greenhouse

Emily responded to the NYC Flock House as “Very elegant. Looks like it has sails, like it could be wind-powered.”

Her concept is a “Pyramid shaped structure with terraces down the sides that contain window boxes for gardening.”  The materials would be “driftwood, fabric, plastic, twine.”

She envisions the idea of Flock House might “provide sustainable mobile shelter for hundreds or thousands of otherwise homeless people.”

Her Flock House would be located by a water source to siphon water to the top of the Flock House and deliver it down to the plants using gravity.

Her website is:

Michael Stevens – Crab Nebula Flock House, Bemis Center – Old Market

Design by Michael Stevens

Design by Michael Stevens


Michael Stevens, University of Nebraska, Omaha, embeds this description into a rendering of Flock House.

Crab Nebula

The design features unfolding arms that when extended, reveal a stored hammock. The user may lie in the hammock and star gaze.

The user sits on the central platform as the arms are extended, lifting them toward the cosmos.

The arms are pressure-activated and are triggered by weight on the central plate.

An outrigger design provides stability.

Owen, age 7 draws a Flock House and answers 7 questions at Bemis Center – Old Market

Owen, age 7. Flock House

Owen, age 7. Flock House

Here are Owen’s responses to the 7 questions, entered by a scribe.

He “thinks it’s cool, I like it. I love it because it makes me happy.” “Yes,” he “would go to bed (in the Flock House) and get some blankets, and play Ninja warrior in there.”

T o build a Flock House, “You would need some foam maybe to put all of them in and set it up.” As a member of the design team he suggests, “Maybe a hoop right there. (points towards ceiling) Glass, for breaking and melt it and reuse it again for a cannon.” He would bring the design team “wood and pillows and blankets and take them bowling.”

“Yes,” he would go to a Flock House gathering “Because I want to.”







Paula Thompson, Flock House on water at Bemis Center – Old Market

Paula Thompson completes 7 questions on the idea of Flock House.

Paula Thompson completes 7 questions on the idea of Flock House.

Below I have typed in her answers to the questions, and added notes from our later discussion.

1. Flock House Design: “I noticed that the wood looked like driftwood & as if it would float. I also noticed the beautiful curved lines of the wood & the fabric for shelter in sailing if needed. I also like the back support & that people could support each other from slipping via feet pressed together in the middle. This could hold several people.”

Later Paula described the design as “more fluid” and reflecting “intentionality.” “It is a teaching tool.”  A Flock House “must be attractive so people inquire & discover.”

“We think we need to go buy everything we need – you can make something for yourself.”

2. On spending the night in the Flock House: “I’m not sure as I am inclined to be an insomniac. (smiley face) I like white noise to sleep which I realize I would get over in a hurry if this were to be a shelter.”

3. Equipping with water, energy, waste collection, and gardens: “I can imagine barrels that might feed into the planter via slow absorption through a cotton string. The rest would be for drinking and using.”

Paula spoke of a friend who was able to raise the growing zone of her plants by 3 zones by protecting them from wind and giving them shelter.

4. Recycled materials: “Maybe old tire tubes & tire patches to be waterproof and flotation. Perhaps pack them flat with a manual pump in case fluctuation was needed.”

Later Paula mentioned using colored glass. When sun hits colored glass it casts colored fragments of light around the Flock House. If lit from the inside at nigh,t it casts a “soft glow” that would “draw you to it.”

5. Design team contributions: “Gardening, harvesting & storing seeds. Hybridizing plants, drying food.”

6. A Flock of Flock Houses: “I tend to be more of a loner or small community person. I would gravitate to a small multi-talented group to reduce the chance of communal activity which arises in masses.”

7. It would offer a base to expand on; a quick place to find shelter, food, clean water, & rest. With that start, one wouldn’t suffer from the early stages of being weakened as a result of catastrophic events.”

Later she summarized, A Flock House brings us now a “demonstration for growing and shelter, what to do in an emergency.”

Paula Thompson: A floating Flock House

Paula Thompson: A floating Flock House

Paula’s design has a retractable pole with a crank “to spin and wrap the sail.” Once you wrap the around its pole, it retracts into the larger pole beneath.

There is a garden box that uses a string to wick water from the water receptacle (in blue) into the garden.

3 from Kansas City, Missouri draw a Flock House at Bemis Center – Old Market

Angie and Connor (age 8) Hart from Kansas City, Missouri draw a Flock House.

Angie and Connor (age 8) Hart from Kansas City, Missouri draw a Flock House.

Angie and Connor Hart entered the NYC Flock House to draw a Flock House and answer 7 questions. Angie wrote she found the Flock House “cozy, inviting, close.” Connor, 8 years old, said “No” to staying in the Flock House “because it looks dirty. Looks cold and has no door.” Angie said “Yes,” because it seems inviting & warm.” Yet, “spending the night – you would be vulnerable.

To equip the Flock House you “could collect rain water, solar power for energy and use a compost toilet.” Materials to use when building are “wood, tin, cloth.” To a design team Angie would bring “Interest.” She “Never built a structure before.”

They say “No” to a Flock House migration,  “I think it would be mayhem. Too many people with too many ideas.”  The role of Flock House in addressing population displacement is that, “Flock Houses could help in refugee camps and in areas where there are lack of resources.”

Angie Hart, Kansas City, Mo. - Flock House

Angie Hart, Kansas City, Mo. – Flock House

Connor Hart, age 8 - Flock House

Connor Hart, age 8 – Flock House

Keith Ballard, Kansas City, Missouri

Keith Ballard from Kansas City, Mo. answers 7 questions at Bemis Center - Old Market.

Keith Ballard from Kansas City, Mo. answers 7 questions at Bemis Center – Old Market.

Keith Ballard’s response to the Flock House is, “Freedom. Not being tied to a single place or restricted by a home mortgage.”  When staying in a Flock House, “I’d want at least a week. To gain the full experience.” To be equipped the Flock House would need “portable cistern, compost toilet and a window garden.”

Building materials are “Plastic bags. they can be ironed together to create a thicker ‘fabric.’ Can be used as covering for the outside.”  On a design team, he is a “good researcher.”

Keith would like to attend a Flock gathering. In population displacement, the Flock House would “Provide a sense of community.”

Keith Ballard, Kansas City, Mo. - Flock House.

Keith Ballard, Kansas City, Mo. – Flock House.