Maurice Harris Is a Superstar


But, Mr. Harris said, he has spent much of his life as a gay man at odds with that music’s greater institution. “It was very clear to me, very young, that my parents weren’t here for it, my community wasn’t here for it,” he said. Many of his family relationships have since evolved. (His mother, a former minister of music at his childhood church, plays a gospel organ on “Centerpiece.”)

After working with Ms. Kayne and her friends, Mr. Harris started attracting celebrity clients, though he balks at the suggestion that his proximity to fame is the most interesting thing about him. “I was talented before Beyoncé sat on my sofa,” he said, when asked about the star, who posed with his florals at the “Queen & Slim” premiere last year.

But with the growth of Mr. Harris’s business came an uncomfortable tension. “I’m making these beautiful things that I couldn’t afford myself, and there’s something weird here,” Mr. Harris said. “Capitalism and creativity and who owns it.”

“I’ve been keenly aware of me failing to be a rich person,” he said, laughing. “I’m in all these homes, and at a certain point I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can merchandise my refrigerator and go to the farmers’ market and get all these cute little ceramic bowls to put my fruits and vegetables in.’ And then I was like, wait — what?”

The act of negotiating multiple realms meant finding mediums for expressing himself. “I don’t have a lot of clients of color, but a lot of people of color follow me on Instagram,” Mr. Harris said of the platform, where he is known to anthropomorphize his arrangements. “People were interested in what was going on here, but don’t necessarily have access. I’ve tried to find ways to give entry points for people to feel comfortable. I’ve always thought that beauty is one of the communicating tools that allures people to think about something differently.”

His thoughts around access to creativity led to the 2019 opening of Bloom & Plume Coffee, a bright, color-drenched cafe next to his floral studio in Filipinotown. “I wanted to create a transformative space that gave people access to the magic that we create,” he said of the business, which features community programming like dialogues about the George Floyd protests.


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