“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 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.”
THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE FALL 2022 ISSUE OF FREDERIC. CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE!