Large-Scale Suspended Art Installation: Architect Interview, Cathy Cherry

Cathy Cherry, Founder, Purple Cherry Architects in Annapolis MD

Banner Art Studio was recently commissioned to create a large-scale suspended art installation by the Purposeful Architecture Studio of Purple Cherry Architects in Annapolis, Maryland  for the Hussman Institute for Autism, also in Maryland. Banner Art Studio was also able to collaborate with John Hussman, who really involved himself in the artistic process. The completed art installation features the autism awareness puzzle piece, and the doves and hearts of the Hussman Institute.

We followed up the successful installation by interviewing Cathy Cherry, Principal at Purple Cherry Architects, about the process an architect uses when designing an interior space for children and adults with special needs.


BA: How does commissioning a large-scale suspended art installation fit into your overall process as an architect?

Architectural rendering of the Hussman Institute

CC: From the very beginning, we knew we wanted large-scale art inside the Hussman Institute. We were working within an existing two-story lobby inside a business office in which our client took two of three floors. Because the vertical volume was larger than the horizontal volume, it was immediately apparent that center of the volume needed to be filled.

When our client does not occupy an entire building, we need to find creative ways to convey their message. Explaining to people that our clients exist, and what they are all about can take many forms. Digital photography of people and faces is often the most straightforward, but signage on the outside of a building is normally restricted by jurisdictional codes. Signage on the inside of a building is usually restricted by the landlord. We can get around all of this with art. A hanging art mobile in a space like the one we had at the Hussman Institute is an incredible way-finding tool that is not code-restricted.

BA: How did you find Banner Art Studio?

CC: Once we decided to fill the space with large scale suspended mobile art, I went online. I searched “mobiles” and was most impressed with Banner Art’s use of organic shapes and fluidity. The long leaves and monarch butterflies of their artwork was breathtaking to me, and the quality was evident through the photography I saw.

BA: Thank you Cathy, we are so glad we were able to work with you. How did Banner Art’s mobiles fit into your goals with the Hussman Institute’s goals?

CC: We knew we needed color and light to reference the Hussman Institute’s commitment to autism. Banner Art’s large scale hanging art installations take the next step and help convey emotion, using colors and shapes that are familiar to a person, like doves, hearts and the autism puzzle piece. I was looking for a hanging art mobile that was large scale. The fact that Banner Art Studio mobiles are fluid and move continuously with interior air currents was very interesting to us. We saw that this would create excitement within the space. My goal was to take that excitement to an emotional level for the viewer.

BA: Why did you choose Banner Art Studio?

Suspended art can be made a thousand different ways, and there are studios across the country producing it. But because the Purposeful Architecture Studio of Purple Cherry Architects works with many nonprofit clients, we have to be budget-sensitive. I immediately recognized that working with Banner Art Studio’s fabric and steel armature art rather than the alternatives would create maximum impact while remaining cost-effective.

Founder of Purposeful Architecture, Cathy’s role as caretaker for family members with autism and Downs Syndrome inform her awareness of the needs of both individuals with special needs and their caregivers.

A wholly-integrated design firm, Purple Cherry Architects provide architecture, interior design, space planning and programming, construction administration and graphic support for marketing and fundraising. The Purposeful Architecture Studio of Purple Cherry Architects is committed to creating spaces that foster thoughtful learning and inspire creativity and individuality in children and adults with special needs.

The Hussman Institute for Autism provides a continuum of resources to serve the needs of individuals with autism, including training materials, model programs, and evidence‐based practices, centered around principles of positive, naturalistic, humane support, and the presumption that individuals with autism are competent – even if they face significant challenges demonstrating it through communication and initiation. The Institute works to translate its research findings into interventions that will change how people with autism are supported day-to-day.


Each beautifully translucent large scale suspended art installation by Banner Art Studio is designed by our artists to catch a building’s air currents and natural and artificial light. We design in collaboration with our clients to create truly unique, one-of-a-kind artwork and banners that represent the spirit of a community or place. We have developed an assembly process for our suspended installations that makes them easy to pack, ship and install. We have a broad and inspiring portfolio and a talent for bringing your idea to life, and we work with clients all over the country and the world.

Get started today by Contacting Us.

For examples of our Large-Scale Suspended Art Installations, visit our Galleries.


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