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Behind the scenes with 3 Art in Bloom designs

Onay Cruz Gutierrez, of Spring Hope, creates an inspiration of “Dog Effigy.”

The North Carolina Museum of Art‘s annual festival of art and flowers is back after a pandemic-necessitated break in 2020. Now, as the NCMA readies for its second weekend of Art in Bloom, we got an early look at some of the designs in progress.

Here’s how it works: Designers randomly draw art pieces from the museum’s collection. Then, they create interpretations of that artwork using floral materials.

The two-weekend event has some overlapping artists, but new floral interpretations of art will be revealed this Thursday-Sunday.

We talked to Raleigh area artists about three designs as they began assembling the floral works Wednesday.

Lydia Kuekes, ‘Cleopatra’ by Francois Le Moyne

Lydia Kuekes creating her design Wednesday.
The artwork

About the designer: Lydia is a graphic artist by trade and this is her first Art in Bloom as a designer, though she’s attended for years.

About the inspiration: Lydia decided to interpret the story of Cleopatra, and her demise, from the artwork. The “literal and conceptual” design will show movement from fresh flowers to dried flowers to “represent her transition from life to death.”

The florals: The artist found meaning in the Viper Wine carnations, one floral in the mix, because of the alternative theory that Cleopatra died by snakebite.

Viper Wine carnations, at right.

Diane Makgill, ‘Forward,’ by Jacob Lawrence

About the designer: Diane was a docent at NCMA for 15 years, and she felt an immediate connection to the artwork showing the life of Harriet Tubman. She remembers bringing children and others by the artwork.

Diane Makgill
Artwork shown at right.

About the inspiration and floral design: Diane says she was inspired by Harriet Tubman’s life and by her own Quaker heritage.

Quakers used quilts to communicate with those running the Underground Railroad, and so Diane’s design includes needlepoint design, a task that she says took 221 hours.

One such design is the pattern of triangles, “Flying Geese,” which would indicate a group would soon be passing through town, so supporters nearby should gather supplies.

A frayed, broken chain, shown above, represents freedom.

“Flying Geese” pattern shown here

Bright pink roses reference the painting, the artist portrays enslaved people on the quest for freedom as barefoot. Color blocking will be in the design, referring back to the artist’s style in the painting, with white orchids for the apron or skirt. The structural center represents the mountains and the copper pot, the sun.

Celeste White and Faye Davis, ‘Blue Panel’ by Ellsworth Kelly

About the designers: Celeste, a floral designer, and sister Faye, who has a physics degree, interpreted a quote by the artist: “Look at it and look at it again, and just how does it make you feel?”

About the inspiration: In the spirit of the artist, the designers chose to create a design that inspires different emotions.

On their three-sided structure, each side represents a different emotion.

On one side, a pink and white modern design, comfort.

The next side, with white, green and yellow, the ‘spiral of life.’

The ‘Spiral of Life’ side, with designer Celeste White

The third side (in progress here) could make the viewer feel passion or rage, depending on their perspective and point in life, Celeste said.

About Art in Bloom

Cary’s Jeffrey Batchelor and Tonia Gebhart’s “Winter 1946” inspiration in progress.

The second weekend of Art in Bloom is now sold out, but two related programs are still available.

They include the Virtual Slow Art in Bloom program 7 p.m. Thursday and the Art in Bloom-inspired edition of the NCMA Film Club, 7 p.m. Friday.

READ MORE LOCAL ART: Raleigh’s Black Main Street history shared through sidewalk murals

MORE CREATIVE NEWS: The story behind Chavis Park’s new public art glass collage

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Author: raleighconvergence

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen is the editor of Raleigh Convergence.

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