Art in Bloom creates unconventional, stunning engagement opportunity

Lydia McKelvie | Staff Writer

“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.” – John Lubbock

Illustration by Mia Goldberg

I really love art museums. What I love even more is seeing others enjoy the St. Louis Art Museum and engage with the art, and what I love even more than that is posting on Instagram. I’m a basic art student, I know. Luckily for me, Art in Bloom involves all of the above.

Art in Bloom is an annual event put on by the St. Louis Art Museum at the beginning of spring. It involves dozens of local florists putting their imagination and skill to the test by reimagining works from the museum. The artists are randomly assigned art pieces to interpret through a floral arrangement and they compete for prizes from the visitors, the staff and the official judges. These florists work with incredibly varied source material from all around the museum, ranging from famous portraits to ceramic birds.

“I love the challenge of it! It pulls a lot of creativity out of me; it makes me really do research, and I don’t get to do something like this every day”, said Dawn Ahner from Ahner Florist and Greenhouses.

Anher was the people’s and the judge’s pick for best in show, basing her floral piece on Burning Rods by Anselm Kiefer. This painting was especially difficult to interpret, given its abstract and dark nature. However, Ahner was not daunted by the challenge. “After I pulled my piece, I just came here and I sat. I sketched the movement and what I saw. That sketch I carried with me and I built off of that.

The event itself is a beautiful experience. Art lovers of all backgrounds can enjoy these stunning arrangements and the creativity and ingenuity with which these florists interpret their pieces. The life and energy in the museum during this event made it easy to start conversations about the art with people I may not have talked to before. Besides being the source of some great Instagram stories for myself and countless others, it is also a way for the community to come together and engage with art in a new way.

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