A spring-y interpretation of the NCMA’s exhibits returns for a sixth year
by Ayn-Monique Klahre
Unfortunately, this year’s Art in Bloom and all related events have been postponed in light of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s state of emergency declaration and recommendations regarding large gatherings. In a statement, Museum Director Valerie Hillings said: “While we will greatly miss seeing our incredible community come together to celebrate spring, marvel at the work of participating floral designers, and meditate on our Museum collection in new ways, the safety of our visitors, volunteers, and staff is a top priority.” For more information, visit their website.
At this year’s annual Art In Bloom weekend at the North Carolina Museum of Art, dozens of floral designers will be challenged to come up with arrangements inspired by a piece of art inside the museum. The work is chosen by lottery—participants can switch with each other, but not opt out—and then they are given about three months to figure out how to bring it to life in flowers.
For the designers, that means researching the art and artists, sketching and experimenting at home. But even once the design is perfected, challenges abound: Sometimes the flowers work differently on-site than they do at home, a structure can collapse mid-exhibit and the florists have to keep all those flowers looking their best for five days straight—no easy task.
SHANNON HILL Raleigh | ELAN HOUSE | 1ST YEAR
HER STYLE… I’ve never had any formal floral training, so I don’t follow a formula. My style is eclectic and sprinkled with a lot of love.
HER STARTING POINT: Color and vessel are my foundations for everything. At the moment, I’m going back and forth on flowers. Yellow, orange and toffee are the colors bouncing around in my head.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Staying within the guidelines that we’ve been given as designers and making sure my work lives up to the expectations of the museum and guests.
ERICA WINSTON Cary | THE RALEIGH GARDEN CLUB | 6TH YEAR
SHE LOVES… the mega size of the designs—you can use big, bold flowers, and lots of them!
STARTING POINT: It’s my experience of the piece that triggers a design. I want to capture my emotional response and manifest that for everyone to share with me.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Plant material has a life of its own—some flowers bend, but most don’t, and getting them to arc in the exact right spot and angle—it’s like walking a tightrope.
VANESSA & MARC SMITH Raleigh | 5TH YEAR
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED? I’m not an actual florist—I do it on the side—but I wait tables at Iris. The second year of the event, they had a florist fall through, so they asked me because they knew I’d done a couple of weddings.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Figuring out your water source! One year, my husband created a wood panel with holes drilled into it to hide test tubes with water.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST? I didn’t study art in school, so I usually start by researching the artist. I end up learning a lot in the process.
HIS STYLE: My style is modern and open. I like using different materials and incorporating ordinary material in a different way.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE? We’re doing a platform piece, so for those you try to create a focal point, something that wows the visitors. I’m not trying to recreate the art, but to interpret and complement it. I’m trying to evoke the same feelings instead of just copying the art in flowers.
WHY HE LOVES IT: I came to North Carolina to study art, and I never thought I’d have a piece of my work in the state’s art museum! Last year we finished setting up right as they opened the doors, and I swear people were pressed against them like it was Black Friday and they were giving away TVs. You really can’t ask for a better event!
ROBERT BRYANT & SANDE FAULKWELL Wilson
AVENUE GARDENS FLORIST | 1ST YEAR
THE MOST EXCITING PART IS… Designing something that the artist would see and love.
THEIR STYLE: I [Robert] purchased an old-school florist shop a year ago and we have been working hard to brand it as more of an edgy, upscale organic style art floral studio.
THEIR PIECE: We are very excited because we found out that the owner of the artwork has ties to a tobacco company in England, which had an office in Wilson. We hope to incorporate some form of tobacco leaves in the arrangement.