Charlotte artist blossoms at Art in Bloom

People The Arts

July 8, 2021

Olivia Chisholm creatively engages community and finds a new career path

Each year, thousands of guests head to the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh for Art in Bloom to view jaw-dropping floral arrangements inspired by works in the Museum’s collection.

Charlotte floral and interior designer Olivia Chisholm created an arrangement inspired by Simone Leigh’s “Corrugated,” a bronze sculpture with raffia depicting an abstract figure of a woman. Chisholm’s NCMA appearance in June comes just one year after she started exploring floral design at the height of the pandemic and global BLM protests.

While working as a healthcare worker in 2020, Chisholm began an initiative called “Giving Black Women Their Flowers” to deliver bouquets to Black women in the Charlotte area following the police shooting of Breonna Taylor. It was then that Chisholm began exploring floral arts and threading community with creative engagement. The “Giving Black Women Their Flowers” initiative is now part of a national greeting card project via Chisholm’s florals and interior design company, To Live in Color.

It’s been a year of challenge and change for Chisholm. Appearing at Art in Bloom was a full-circle moment and she found alignment in being matched with a work of art like “Corrugated.” She notes how Leigh’s work honors the complexity and beauty of Black women in what she calls a “powerhouse” sculpture. “I used my artistry to create a piece that mimics Leigh’s use of multi-African contexts; using traditional African florals blended with modern American florals often found in Black homes, and a classic color scheme.”

Art in Bloom took place in June, but you can still get a behind-the-scenes look from our sister publication, Walter magazine, in this exclusive video showcasing the artists’ creativity.

Chisholm looks forward to what the next year holds. She currently leads a program with the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art to support underserved teens.

Photographs: NCMA and Carey J. King

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