“Art in Bloom” Blossoms at the NCMA


D. Khan

Florist Mia Spolan smiles beside her owl-inspired arrangment.

The North Carolina Museum of Art was closed from March 14th to 19th for its annual Art In Bloom event. Art In Bloom remains one of the biggest and most successful fundraisers for the NCMA, with both weekend dates selling out of tickets ahead of time.

Art In Bloom is a partnership between the museum and dozens of local florists. Each florist chosen is randomly assigned a piece of art within the NCMA (yes, they can switch, but most choose not to). The florists have about two months to create an elaborate flower arrangement inspired by the artwork. 

Since the event spanned over four days (with set up on Tuesday beforehand), a plethora of backup flowers was stored under the museum for daily replacements. If a visitor even smelled the flowers too much, the arrangement could need serious attention. Sometimes, the flowers needed ran out or weren’t available throughout the week. Anemones turned into carnations, dendrobium into mokara, and so on–every florist took the changes in stride. 

Some arrangements, such as Elaine Hankins’s interpretation of I am Beautiful (Je suis belle), looked almost identical to their reference. Others, such as Lisa McPherson Ruf’s interpretation of Mask of the Man with the Broken Nose, took the opposite route and focused on the emotion or inspiration the piece evoked. 

A handful of the florists, including Jennifer Massey (Sounding Sculpture), Mia Spolan (Owl Skyphos), and Diane Makgill (Broad Collar), came to the event to discuss their work with the visitors. Massey spoke about how synesthesia inspired her vibrant arrangement as she studied the music her sculpture released. Spolan reflected on the delicacy of her piece while highlighting the colorful Greek blossoms only visible from certain angles. Makgill discussed Egyptian culture and her dedication to dyeing and preserving her florals for the event. 

After a fantastic turnout, delicious food, and riveting live music, the event came to a close on Sunday night. By the end of the fundraiser, each piece had been showered with immense praise. Visitors, docents, and florists agreed that Art In Bloom 2023 was an absolute success.