The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) will present Flower Craft, featuring the creative visions of six botanical artists working at the forefront of contemporary floral design. Inspired by nature’s ephemerality and its inimitable palettes, the artists engage with all stages of the plant life cycle, from seed to germination to decay, to interpret nature in sculptural form. “By design, floral artistry is meant to be more than pleasing to the eye,” said Elissa Auther, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator. “As the artists expand the boundaries of materials and creative expression, they are also in dialogue with a variety of aesthetic traditions, from early modern European still life painting to the eighteenth-century picturesque to the hyperreality of the twenty-first-century digital realm—all of which will be explored in the exhibition.”

Each week a new botanical artist will be featured in the Flower Craft gallery. The artists are:

Kristen Alphaugh is founder of Los Angeles-based FLWR PSTL, a studio whose high-profile clients include Katy Perry, SZA, and Doja Cat, as well as major cosmetic and fashion brands. Alphaugh melds botanicals with various media to tell unique and compelling stories. She was recently featured in HBOMax’s floral competition series, Full Bloom.

Doan Ly, founder of a.p. bio, is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice integrates the fields of floral design, photography, and video. Ly’s work has been published in Vogue Spain, China, and Italy; The New Yorker; The Atlantic; and Kinfolk, among others. Her commercial clients include Moschino, Victoria’s Secret, Carolina Herrera, Zara, and many more. Born in Vietnam, Ly immigrated to the United States at the age of eight and grew up in Minnesota.

Lutfi Janania is a Honduran botanical artist raised on a bioreserve among the rain forest and mountains in San Pedro Sula. His sculptures, comprised of exquisite dry and hydrated natural materials, are surreal, unrealized portraits of the artist’s imagined worlds. Janania was the winner of season two of HBOMax’s Full Bloom and his studio, ROSALILA, is located in Brooklyn, New York.

Noritaka Noda is president of the Ikenobo Ikebana NYC Chapter, as well as the first and only US special professor recognized by the Ikenobo Headquarters in Kyoto, Japan. As a professor of Ikebana, he conducts demonstrations and teaches classes at the Nippon Club. Noda is known for his unusual arrangements, which combine traditional and modern materials in different scales. His clients include American and Japanese corporations, restaurants, retail, and museums.

Emily Thompson is the founder of Emily Thompson Flowers in New York City. Born in Vermont, Thompson earned an MFA in sculpture from UCLA. Inspired by the eighteenth-century theory of the picturesque, she has designed dramatic naturalistic arrangements and installations for the Obama White House, MoMA’s Modern restaurant, Bergdorf Goodman, T Magazine, Jason Wu, and other notable clients. 

Manu Torres is an artist based in Portland, Oregon. His floral arrangements often involve a dialogue between the artificial and the natural; incorporating paper, fabric, paint, and feathers to imitate and exaggerate natural beauty in a hyperreal way. His work has been featured in Elle Decor magazine and he was also named by Domino magazine as a top new floral designer to follow. His recent solo exhibition at Russo Lee Gallery was an ArtForum Critic’s Pick.

Alongside the ever-changing floral installations that are the heart of Flower Craft, there will be a curated selection of vessels in a range of mediums, complementing the emphasis on the craft and design of flower arrangement. Artists in this section of the exhibition include Emily Mullins and Jolie Ngo, as well as a video by Cauleen Smith. Titled Flowers for Virtually Nobody, it was filmed during the pandemic and captures Smith creating an arrangement that grows ever larger over the duration of the piece in commemoration of those lost to Covid-19. The exhibition also coincides with MAD’s first-ever “bee residency,” newly installed on the Museum roof. Two hives are now homes for “Queen Aileen,” named for the industrious founder of MAD, Aileen Osborn Webb, and “Queen Toshiko Takaezu,” named for the famed female ceramic artist and dedicated supporter of MAD. The queens are attended by a mob of drones to keep them warm, pollinate, and make honey.