North Carolina’s Art in Bloom Showcased Floral Artists


Cheryl Austin Event Florals – Inspiration: Flight research #5, Rosemary Laing – Used shades of blue hydrangeaRarely will we write about something that is after the event – but the North Carolina Museum of Art show in April is worth revisiting. Like great art, the floral arrangements were such visual splendors that it becomes timeless.

Its Art in Bloom fundraiser featured 50 floral designers from around the country to design floral installations based on works in the NCMA’s collection. Since we often report on how artists interpret floral motifs in their photography or paintings,  here was an opportunity to share how floral designers interpreted paintings.

I found out about this event from my friend Jo Maeder, who lives nearby.  Next year, I will put it on my calendar to visit. Over 22,000 people visited this popular event, which is now in its fifth year.

The seeds for this show were actually planted by a program at the Boston MFA, who has been doing Art in Bloom for more than 40 years. Other places, including Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts – called PAFA IN BLOOM – have adopted this fertile idea as well.  Some of the participants of the NC show,  Mayor Jody McCleod and Stephanie Garrett, were invited to that program and also have participated in the NC one over the years.

Here are some pictures from this year’s exhibition. Organizers are already getting excited about next year’s event. But for now, just let’s savor the beauty and creativity displayed by all these talents.

Terry Godfrey, American Institute of Floral Designers, Washington, D.C. inspiration: Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires, Mickalene Thomas- Primary floral materials: shampoo ginger, oncidium and mokara orchids, green trick dianthus


Florist Allison Copeland Williams -Inspiration: Valencia Oranges, William Joseph McCloskey -Primary floral materials: rose, gerbera, ranunculus


Jennifer Wood, Wild Flora Farm – Inspiration: The Green Bridge II, Lyonel Feininger -Primary floral materials: green ball dianthus, baby’s breath, ranunculus, poppies, curly willow, hyacinth, garden roses, scabiosa, scabiosa pods, vanda orchids


Florists Vannesa and Marc Smith – Inspiration: Harriet Tubman, Aaron Douglas -Primary floral materials: monstera, dianthus, thistle, mums, calla lily, lily grass, eucalyptus, succulents, cordyline


Florist Celeste Venus White -Inspiration: Bust of the Goddess Sekhmet – Primary floral materials: iris, agapanthus, amaranthus, horsetail, roses, acacia, chrysanthemum, astilbe, sago palm, palm fan


Joseph Barnes, Petal and Oak – Inspiration: Oriole, Gene Davis- Primary floral materials: mitsumata branches, vanda orchid, delphinium, snapdragon, gloriosa lily, plumosa, rose, cymbidium orchid, reindeer moss


Carol Dowd, AIFD, Botanicals – Inspiration: Still Life with Two Figures, Pieter Cornelisz -Primary floral materials: carnations , roses, bells of Ireland, snapdragons, protea, calla, brassica


Florists Julie Bryan and Kathy Edwards – Inspiration: Weather Side, Andrew Newell Wyeth- Primary floral materials: delphinium, Queen Anne’s lace, dianthus, spray roses, snapdragons, dusty miller, eucalyptus, mini carnations, curly willow


Julie Vaughn, Wake Forest Florist – Inspiration – Untitled – Nathan Oliveira -Primary flowers – delphiniums, gladiolus, carnations


Aside from these floral artists creating installations inspired by paintings, there was an amuse-bouche beforehand.  Inspired by Lewis Miller’s Flower Flash, blooming trash cans filled with abundant flowers were strategically placed in prime spots around Raleigh. The Museum partnered with PNC Bank, the City of Raleigh Arts Commission among others to brighten up downtown Raleigh with these larger-than-life arrangements created by EW Fulcher of Bloom Works, Steve Taras of Watered Garden Florist and by Amy J. Wurster of Knots N Such.


EW Fulcher of Bloom Works


Steve Taras of Watered Garden Florist
Amy J. Wurster of Knots N Such
Amy J. Wurster
Steve Taras
Amy J. Wurster

I’m told that a call was made to Lewis Miller in New York and the project got his blessing. After all, flower lovers know that we are in this business to bring joy and good ideas can take root anywhere. Furthermore, each artist takes blooms and creates their own individual signature work.

“Art in Bloom is all about encouraging visitors to see art in a new way, through the beauty of flowers and the creativity of floral designers like Steve Taras,” said Laura Finan, coordinator of programs at the NCMA. “This public art project does the same thing, turning a trash can, typically a practical place to dispose of garbage, into a blooming work of art.” – Jill Brooke