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'Prescription gardens' open in Rochester

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Tiny gardens meant to encourage meditation are now open to the public in Rochester.

Minneapolis-based sculptor Jess Hirsch is the creator of the "prescription gardens" that are part of a new exhibit at the Rochester Art Center that focuses on mental health.

Each garden dwells on a specific emotion as described in Buddhism — delusion, aversion (hate) and greed. Visitors are encouraged to grapple with these negative emotions by using meditation. 

"My art practice has been based in integrating the healing world with participatory sculpture," Hirsch said.

Tucked away in each garden is a plaque listing a phone number visitors can call to hear a short, guided meditation.   

For Hirsch, the work is personal.

"For this project I really wanted to focus on meditation," she said. "It's personally affected my life and helped me balance my anxiety and make it through grad school."

The exhibit, Mental Health: Mind Matters, opens at the Rochester Art Center this weekend. Hirsch is one of several Minnesota artists who have created pieces for the exhibit.