Reframing Art with Nature: Flowers, People, and Art in Bloom

Kelsey Virginia Dufresne


In extending Bernard Stiegler’s conceptualizations of life as the economy of death and Alexander Marshack’s historical tracings of early-human artifacts in relation to flowers, I strive to situate and read flowers as media that they carry an embedded history and infrastructure that reflects and challenges the anthropocentrism that has cultivated, commodified, and curated blooms throughout time. In looking to theorists such as Donna Haraway and Jane Bennett, I study a specific event in which flowers are presented to the public as art: the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Art in Bloom. Art in Bloom offers and sustains a complex media ecology, where paintings and sculptures readily and more permanently adorn the gallery spaces, living blooms are used as accompanying pieces of floral art for four days a year, text embeds all signifying information through the museum, money gains admittance to the space, and visitors experience the collective forces of mediation – and contribute to it by documenting their experience through personal digital photography. Such a study of flowers as both media and art must simultaneously recognize the humanist structures blooms are cultivated and commodified within, emphasizing Art in Bloom as a prime instance in which the tensions surrounding nature, gender, art, and media collide – and where traditional perceptions and understandings of what constitutes art is deconstructed and reverted for the human-oriented benefit and economic gains.

How to cite this article: Dufresne, Kelsey Virginia. "Reframing Art with Nature: Flowers, People, and Art in Bloom." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 25 (September 2021): 67-80. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i25.448

Article received: April 20, 2021; Article accepted: June 21, 2021; Published online: September 15, 2021; Original scholarly paper


flowers; natural media; art; museum; gender; culture; art museum; Art in Bloom.

Full Text:



Art in Bloom. Personal Visit and Photography, 2018.

Art in Bloom. Personal Visit and Photography, 2019.

Bennett, Jane. “The Force of Things.” In Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, 1–19. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.

Brooks, Gwendolyn. Maud Martha: A Novel. Chicago: Third World Press, 1993 [1953].

Buchmann, Stephen L. The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives. New York: Scribner, 2015

Finan, Laura. Personal Interview, 8 September 2020.

Haraway, Donna. The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2003.

Huang, Melissa. “Are Art Museums Gendered Spaces?” March 26, 2014. Accessed on January 31, 2021.

Lewis, Tyson. “The Pedagogical Power of Things: Toward a Post-Intentional Phenomenology of Unlearning.” Cultural Critique 98 (Winter 2018): 122–44. doi: 10.5749/culturalcritique.98.2018.0122

Marshack, Alexander. “The Art and Symbols of Ice Age Man.” In Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society, edited by David Crowley and Paul Heyer, 10–20. London: Longman, 1991.

Peters, John Durham. The Marvelous Clouds: Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media. University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Potter, Jennifer. Seven Flowers and How They Shaped Our World, 2014. New York: Overlook Press, 2014.

Sontag, Susan. “In Plato’s Cave.” In On Photography. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1977, 3–24.

Stiegler, Bernard. Technics and Time 1: The Fault of Epimetheus, trans. R. Beardsworth and G. Collins. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.

Wiley, Stephen. Personal Interview, November 13, 2020.

Zagacki, Kenneth and Victoria Gallagher. “Rhetoric and Materiality in the Museum Park at the North Carolina Museum of Art.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 95, 2 (2009): 171–91. doi: 10.4324/9781351190473-8



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 AM Journal of Art and Media Studies

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

AM Journal of Art and Media Studies ISSN 2217-9666 - printed, ISSN 2406-1654 - online, UDK 7.01:316.774


Publisher: Faculty of Media and Communications, Singidunum University, Belgrade, Serbia

Indexed in: ERIH PLUSEBSCODOAJ, and in The List of Scientific Journals Categorization of Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of Republic of Serbia (M24-2021). Beginning with No. 12 2017, AM is indexed, abstracted and covered in Clarivate Analytics service ESCI.