|Bella Meyer, the granddaughter of artist Marc Chagall, will be the guest of The Foundation of FirstHealth for the first in a series of programs in the “Health, Healing and Humanities” series. A self-described “beautifier,” Meyer will discuss “Flowers by Chagall: The Healing Powers of Flowers” during the program at the Country Club of North Carolina.|
PINEHURST – “There is nothing more important than to bring a little kindness and beauty into the world,” says Bella Meyer, founder and creative director of Fleurs Bella in New York City.
Meyer, who describes herself as a “beautifier” rather than a florist or floral designer, learned long ago from her beloved grandfather, the celebrated artist Marc Chagall, that flowers are “life in its most joyous state.”
“You could wonder for hours what flowers mean,” Chagall said to her, “but for me, they’re life itself, in all its happy brilliance. We couldn’t do without flowers.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m. in the Ballroom at the Country Club of North Carolina, Meyer will present “Flowers by Chagall: The Healing Powers of Flowers,” in which she will share how flowers – whether Chagall’s brilliantly painted bouquets or her own floral works of art – have a unique ability to inspire people to smile or to bring a moment’s peace.
The event is the first in the three-part “Health, Healing and the Humanities” series featuring nationally known experts in the arts and humanities. The programs are sponsored by The Foundation of FirstHealth, which owns and operates the Clara McLean House and the Healing Garden near FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst. Dr. Lynda Acker, Healing Garden co-designer, will introduce Meyer.
Nancy Kaeser, chair of the Clara McLean House Advisory Council, and Chagall expert and lecturer Vivian Jacobson created this innovative programming, which introduces the humanities as an “antidote to the technological approaches to health care.”
According to scientific studies, the arts and humanities should be considered a valid clinical intervention, like diet and exercise, in the “healing program” for the patient and “preventive medicine” for the healthy. No prescription or state-of-the-art technology is required.
“When Nancy showed me Clara’s House and the Healing Garden for the first time,” Jacobson recalls, “I knew immediately we should start the series with the healing powers of flowers and Bella sharing memories of her grandfather’s love of flowers, which inspired her to find her own path.”
Bella Rosenfield, Chagall’s beloved first wife and muse, initiated his love of flowers when she gave him a bouquet during their courtship.
“I was poor,” he said of his years growing up in Vitebsk, Russia, “and near me, there were no flowers. The first one, Bella had brought it to me.”
Chagall said color entered his life when he went to Paris as an art student in 1911. The bouquets that filled his paintings were, according to one art critic, “pyrotechnic displays in paint, exploding upward and outward, as if flowers were early matter transformed into pure energy, emitting their own light, and radiating a beneficent life force all around.”
Meyer, who was named for her grandmother, was born in Paris and grew up Switzerland. She and her mother visited Chagall regularly at his home in the south of France, presenting him with huge bouquets of flowers for his studio.
“We were surrounded by his paintings,” Meyer recalls. “For me, they were like family. I would go into the paintings and imagine the world in there.”
As a teenager, Meyer was drawn to art history, theology and religious studies. She earned a Ph.D. in medieval art history from the Sorbonne and moved to the U. S. in 1980, finding “her bliss” in the design and construction of fantastical worlds of costumes, masks and puppets for theater, opera and dance.
“I eventually realized I’m a very bad performer,” she says. “Every character had (my) same (French/Swiss German) accent, which was ridiculous.”
A chance request to design a canopy for a friend’s wedding and a trip to New York’s flower district became a revelation.
“I saw all these blooms, all these colors,” she says. “There’s nothing in the world as rich and extraordinary and mysterious as flowers.”
She took them as her natural “art supplies” and created her own art with blossoms as her medium.
“It took me many years to realize that I had to be myself and turn what I had learned through my grandfather into something which is mine,” Meyer says. “Sometimes people who don’t know we are related say that the colors in my arrangements remind them of a Chagall painting.”
In 2003, Meyer founded Fleurs Bella, a floral design company and shop in New York City, where she is creative director. Visitors call it “an inspired universe” and an “enchanted kingdom.”
“What interested me was to create a world apart from the world outside,” she says. “Every day, there are people coming and saying, ‘I’ve never been in such a place,’ and thanking us. They’re so happy. It gives them a little moment of joy.”
Meyer keeps a “stash” of cut flowers outside her showroom with a sign that says, “Take One Please.” About once a month, she ventures onto the streets with what she calls “flower graffiti,” tucking small bouquets into alleyways or subway stations, or handing a flower to a passerby.
“If you see someone sad or someone who looks like they might need a pick-me-up,” she says, “give them a bouquet. Do not ask if they would like a bunch of flowers; just give it to them. Cut flowers have no other purpose aside from being given. It’s like a message I had gotten from my mother and my grandfather. Bring joy into life.”
The Health, Healing and The Humanities series is free and open to the public. To make a reservation or for further information, call The Foundation of FirstHealth at (910) 695-7500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
WANT TO GO?
What: “Flowers by Chagall: The Healing Powers of Flowers”
When: Wednesday, Oct. 29, 5 p.m.
Where: Ballroom in the Country Club of North Carolina
For Reservations, call The Foundation of FirstHealth at (910) 695-7500 or email email@example.com.