It’s been over two years since AIFD members were able to gather and have their National Symposium. We all know why: COVID! So when we were finally able to, (in Las Vegas, baby!) there was a lot of pent-up creativity, love, and expectation. I’d played it really safe throughout, scaling my travel and design plans back to a single, local, outdoor, floral sculpture show, Art in the Elements. Aside from that annual burst of floral creation, I idled. I planned, I plotted. When it was announced that the America’s Cup would take place at this reunion Symposium, I jumped at the opportunity.
The FTD America's Cup During AIFD Symposium
Four years ago when I competed in the America’s Cup, it was the US’s first qualifier contest in decades. Previously, a representative for the US was selected by FTD with little pomp or celebration. Art is subjective, right? How does art even get judged? Those of us who’ve passed the PFDE understand it's all about understanding the rules, the framework. For the World Cup, and each qualifying round, judging is guided by the 100 Points Judging System
Always a Performer and a Competitor
Not all artists are into competing. I totally get that. Most creatives would sooner sell nothing they make, ever, than compete publicly in real time before their peers. Me? I’ve always been a performer and a competitor, be it dancing in competitions and performing in shows during my entire childhood, or more recently being a traveling stage presenter as an Oasis Design Director.
Even with the experience of creating designs live for audiences, travel, and logistics, and working with new-to-me wholesalers, I was rusty!! Before I’d even landed in Las Vegas, I knew that the specimen blooms I’d selected for my first round piece had not arrived. Not a problem! The AIFD design room has the best procurement and processing team around! With their help, we solved it. Next up- locating the refrigerator-sized box my structure had shipped in. It arrived, in pristine shape, in Las Vegas but was damaged in transport - inside the building. That’s how it goes sometimes! All we can do is control how we react- and so I channeled my inner Zen and spent my entire prep period straightening and reinforcing the broken spine of my piece.
Hard to Keep the Focus
All three primary rounds of designing took place on a single day! Early, mid-morning, and in the afternoon. Each round was two hours or less, a total blur for the competitor! To make the time crunch even tougher, for most of us it was the first time we’d been together in years! As I competed, I tried to keep my focus on the design ahead of me, but each time I raised my gaze, I locked eyes with someone I loved and hadn’t seen in ages. Hard to keep focus and more than a little tough to keep from jumping the stanchions to hug my flower family.
Respect the Flowers
I designed with my heart. I proudly created floral artworks that represent me as a fourth-generation American floral artist. My three pieces, ultimately purchased in support of the AIFD Foundation, studied for their mechanics and techniques and hopefully will be reused someday. Each competitor brought all of themselves and it really showed. The bar keeps being raised. As it should!