Spring has sprung — and so has the North Carolina Museum of Art.
The Art in Bloom festival will be held at the NCMA Thursday through Sunday. The festival showcases more than 50 floral arrangements from different designers and offers many public events. From learning a new flower to simply taking in the beauty of re-imagined floral arrangements, the festival provides a unique adventure for people in the agricultural city of Raleigh.
Art in Bloom takes after the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which has held the festival for about 40 years. The designers come from varying levels of experience, from garden club members, to professional florists, to small-business owners who focus on bringing plants indoors.
The flower arrangements are inspired by pieces in the museum, ranging in color, material and age. In this showcase, the oldest piece is from 4000 B.C., while the youngest piece was created last summer.
The festival takes place both inside the main building of the NCMA and outside. In preparation for the weekend, the museum partnered with PNC Bank, the Raleigh Arts Commission and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, as well as the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Dix Park team to brighten five corners of downtown Raleigh with giant “trash can bouquets” by Steve Taras of Watered Garden Florist. This idea plays into the idea of something living coming out of something disposable.
Megan George, owner and creator of The ZEN Succulent in Durham, will make her third debut in the festival this year, this time with a dual role. The first part of her role is the reinterpretation of Iris Tutnauer’s “Spice Container,” while the second part is leading two sold-out workshops that teach students how to make their own succulent terrariums.
George grew up with a passion for greenery, and Art in Bloom provides a platform to people like her who have the inspiration and the technique to create something abstract from flower arrangements. Though the majority of the pieces are based off of paintings, sculptures and objects are reinterpreted too.
“Since I do have a spice container, it's an object,” George said. “The thing is that it's very stout, it's very long with plenty of different precious metals. So, I'm going to want to play in on that detail by using the shine of the metals and the leafs that I use, or the foliage that I pick. I also I want it to be easy to interpret. So not necessarily look exactly like the piece, but kind of echo.”
As soon as fresh flowers are stemmed and cut, they have an expiration time on them — but this is what makes them so special to enjoy in the moment. Designers freshen up the arrangements from day to day to keep the flowers looking beautiful throughout the festival.
After the festival, George plans on first putting the piece in the display window of The ZEN Succulent, and then recycling the material and composting the florals.
Special event tickets remain for the "Influenced by the East – Elements of Sogestu Ikebana" demonstration on Friday, and the "Designers Challenge – Seeing Red" demonstration on Sunday. The latter is a fast-paced competition that gives flowers to one lucky participant.
“Why I like that is because it shows you the design process from start to finish,” said Laura Finan, Coordinator of Programs at the NCMA. “We’ll talk about the color red and why it's important in art and then talk about the color red and why it's important in flowers. It's sort of the perfect example of what Art in Bloom is. It brings both sides together, the art and the flower.”
Art in Bloom brings together all generations of people. UNC sophomore Carly Christensen has plans to visit the festival for the third time this weekend with her dad, a tradition that she looks forward to each year.
“I think it’s a really cool thing that the North Carolina Museum of Art does every year,” Christensen said. “I don’t think you see that much in art museums, and it really makes the NCMA different from other ones.”
To all participants, designers and visitors of the festival — stay blooming.
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