Artist Hera Ford created this petal-shaped pillow using two of her textile designs, Orchids Have Dreams and Come Back As A Flower, available at fschumacher.com.

Arnaldo James

Breakout Artist Hera Ford’s Debut Collection Is an Edgy Ode to Florals

Find out what inspires her soulful, expressive art.

November 5, 2022

“Iwanted to see my grandmother’s hands in the dirt,” says artist Hera Ford, explaining why it was that she first began drawing flowers. While a student at the Rhode Island School of Design, Ford had started recording her grandmother’s stories about growing up on a sharecropping plantation in Mississippi. On a visit to her grandmother’s present-day home in Gary, Indiana, Ford brought along an array of favorite flowers to plant—lilies, roses, tulips, hydrangea; as they knelt on the ground, working alongside one another, Ford was struck by how deeply that lost land in Mississippi lived on in her grandmother’s memories, which were now becoming her own.

Ford, photographed in Trinidad and Tobago, wears an ensemble she made with a batik process learned in Ghana. The soft blues of her Come Back As A Flower wallpaper were inspired by her grandmother’s bedroom; the draped fabric is OrchidsHave Dreams. Fabrics and wallpapers, all by Schumacher, fschumacher.com.

Arnaldo James

Ford took out her charcoal pencil and began sketching. “I work a lot in black and white,” she says. “I love the starkness, the honesty and rawness, the playfulness.” She hand-printed her first floral pattern, named “Come Back As A Flower” in homage to the Stevie Wonder song, onto a dress for her senior thesis in 2020; it caught the eye of the creatives at Schumacher, and a collaboration was born. Ford created the rest of her collection while filming a documentary in Guatemala and journeying with her grandmother and several other family members to their ancestral Ghana, where Ford spent a month apprenticing with traditional batik artists.

“Traveling and looking at flowers in conversation with the land is so important to me,” Ford says. “I can see my grandmother, and her grandmothers, in the collection. They work through my hand.”

A detail of Ford’s Close Your Eyes And Remember fabric for Schumacher (fschumacher.com), named after the Minnie Riperton rendition of the song, which Ford describes as “very playful and soft, and about holding your heart in a very gentle way.”