Black History Month: Interview with Maurice Harris

Florist Maurice Harris at Bloom and Plume coffee shop

To celebrate Black History Month, The Bouqs Co. invites you to browse our vibrant United With Flowers collaboration. Designed by world-class florist Maurice Harris, our United With Flowers collection unifies the vision of a floral artist with our dedication to farm-fresh, responsibly-sourced flowers for everyone.

United With Flowers

United With Flowers is an important initiative for us. Black History Month was federally recognized in 1976. It offers us a moment to reflect on the long campaign for equal civil rights and recognize many of the important figures in American history who helped make this happen. Who can forget the courage of pioneers from Harriet Tubman to Jesse Owens to Toni Morrison?

We caught up with Maurice in between managing Bloom and Plume, his friendly neighborhood coffee shop in downtown Los Angeles, and other projects such as livening up HBO’s floral competition show Full Bloom. We love chatting with Maurice whenever we get the chance. He always offers valuable insight and has a great sense of humor.

Maurice Harris arranging a bouquet

100% of the net profits from United With Flowers will be donated to Campaign Zero, an initiative focused on using data-informed solutions to end police brutality.

Q&A with Maurice Harris

Question: If The Wire taught us nothing else, it taught us you don’t mess with a church lady’s crown. What aspects of watching your grandmother make hats inspired you to get into flower design?

Maurice: More than anything, I felt like I COULD do it. When you see someone’s practice, it gives you the confidence to take it on yourself. We are what we see in the world. The more we’re exposed to, the more options there are to draw from. My grandmother’s hats seemed magical and glamorous to me and that was something I aspired to as a child. Flowers seemed like my access point to that magic and glamour.

Question: One of the most powerful images from the Vietnam War depicts a protestor placing a carnation into the barrel of a rifle. Flowers and protesting against police brutality feels like a natural collaboration. What is it about flowers, which we usually imagine as delicate and fragile, that makes them such a powerful symbol of strength, especially against violence?

Vietnam protester putting a flower in a rifle

Photo taken October 21, 1967, by Bernie Boston

Maurice: Flowers are nature’s most beautiful expression of itself – I think that’s undeniable. When you see something so unrelentingly beautiful and innocent – it makes you pause. I think that flowers historically have been used as a way to celebrate or honor someone. They are the manifestation of the circle of life and I think most people relate to flowers in that way. When you see it in contrast to something like violence which devalues life, it makes you look harder. That’s why I use Black bodies and flowers in my work – for that contrast.

Question: Your work on Black is King brought a powerful layer to Queen Bey’s words. Can you elaborate on how you use flowers to convey a broader message to your audience?

Maurice: I did…the flowers for Brown Skin Girl. I think taking flowers out of the context of how they are traditionally used makes them provocative and approachable simultaneously. I think that’s interesting. Flowers in abundance because they are so ephemeral, force you to be present. The larger audience I’m trying to reach is an audience of color, specifically a black audience, because we have not had the luxury of observing nature in its beauty because we spent so much time building and harvesting that beauty under the context of slavery. Renegotiating our relationship as black people to nature is really powerful because nature is the source of all of our fuel.

Question: We think of flowers as gifts of romantic love – who do you think would love to receive a United with Flowers bouquet?

Maurice: This collection was specifically designed so that more people had access to the Bloom & Plume effect. So anyone who is looking to bring a little of that into their life would enjoy receiving one of the bouquets. We need more love and beauty in the world anyway – I think people are doing a good job of seeing outside the boundaries of romantic love and expanding that towards other members of their personal communities. In the words of Black Box “Everybody, everybody!”

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