New Orleans / Southern Art

Marc Pagani
Les Schmidt - Dorothy Jean

"Dorothy Jean"

These images are part of a series I began two years ago after my mother's passing. I was left with flowers sent by friends and family, and knowing that my mother dried and pressed flowers I did the same -- taking a single red rose home with me pressed between the pages of a phone book. That association engendered a larger project. Instead of trying to 'preserve' them, I gathered more and more bouquets and watched them go through their various stages of life. As they languished, I was struck by the intrinsic beauty in their fragility. Each bouquet became personified -- I saw friends and family in each stem. Wilting lilies became my grandmother's paper thin skin, red petals were my aunt's signature fiery red lipstick, and so on.

As humans we tend to personify everything, often without realizing it. It may be just a way to make sense of the strangeness of living and dying. But there's a certain comfort that also comes from this personification. The process of selecting, nurturing and recording these flowers, sometimes for months at a time, became very ceremonial to me, akin to caring for and being cared by a loved one. And as humans we come to rely and depend on such rituals for solace and meaning.

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