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Flower Power: May 2021 Edition

Artist Amy R. Peterson inspires compassion, hope, and rebirth through the Peony Project. The Wild Mother plans a floral outpouring of love and remembrance through #SendFlowersToGreenwood

This is the first edition of the online revival of Flower magazine’s former column, Flower Power. Sign up for our free e-newsletter for future stories about the healing power of flowers. 

Artist Amy R. Peterson paints at an easel in the background. In the four ground, four paintings of peonies from her Peony Project are displayed on a rustic white table.
Artist Amy R. Peterson with paintings from the Peony Project series. Photos by Katie & Cindy Photography

The Peony Project

Through a series of 50 paintings that capture the exquisite beauty of peonies in various stages of bloom, Birmingham, Alabama-based artist Amy R. Peterson is using her medium to destigmatize and raise awareness for an important issue: the need for care and treatment for women in recovery from addiction disorders during pregnancy.

“Around the world peonies are recognized as symbols of compassion, honor, and rebirth. It is for this multifaceted symbolism that we chose peonies,” says Amy.

For the project, Amy partnered with the Comprehensive Addiction in Pregnancy Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center near her home. Each peony painting in the series represents one of the 50 women who entered the program in its first year (2018-2019).

View the Peony Project online or in person at Beverly McNeil Gallery through May 31, 2021, where the paintings are on sale for a limited time with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the program. A complete set of all 50 paintings will be permanently displayed at UAB’s Women and Infants Center where it will continue to inform and inspire the public through the beauty of flowers. To learn how you can support this project, visit go.uab.edu/PeonyProject.

Send Flowers to Greenwood

The team of The Wild Mother floral and event design studio. Callie and Leah Palmer sit on a pair a cattycorner sofas in their studio. Lauren, wearing black, stands between them.
From left: Callie, Lauren, and Leah Palmer of The Wild Mother. Photo by Rachel Maucieri (@rachellynphotog)

In Oklahoma City, The Wild Mother is a creative floral and event design studio owned by community-minded sisters Lauren and Leah Palmer (a third sister, Callie, is on their team, too) who have a firm belief in art as medicine. Their latest project, Send Flowers to Greenwood, is an on-the-ground and virtual effort to use flowers for healing on the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Greenwood Massacre, an attack on a prosperous Black community known as Black Wall Street in which hundreds lost their lives.

Floral design by Lauren Palmer dedicated to Greenwood, Tulsa. Photo via @thewildmother

The sisters’ project has galvanized the greater floral design community. Many have used the hashtag #SendFlowersToGreenwood on social media to share the story along with photos of floral arrangements dedicated to the victims, survivors, and descendants. Floral designer and educator Susan McCleary, Kelly Perry of Team Flower, and Amy McGee of the blog and podcast Botanical Brouhaha have also spread the word.

With the help of volunteers and donations, the Wild Mother has planned two large-scale floral installations—one at a commemorative centennial event on May 31, and another at the dedication of Greenwood Rising, a new history center, on June 2—and will give hand-tied bouquets to descendants.

Dovetailing with the fresh floral projects, an art installation inside the history center will feature hundreds of handmade white paper lilies—an effort organized by Paper Talk, a podcast and collective of paper florists.

Follow @thewildmother and #SendFlowersToGreenwood on Instagram to see the events unfold. Learn how you can get involved here.

By Terri Robertson