SEDUCERSis a series of high-resolution scans that magnify the reproductive organs of flowers plucked from French impressionist painter Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny. I spent three months in 2010 as the Munn Artist-in-Residence at The Claude Monet Foundation in Giverny. There, I would follow the gardeners on their daily pruning rounds, collecting blooms they’d clipped at the flowers’ visual peak. The most arresting of these specimens I then pressed in a microwave, scanned digitally, and printed on photo paper at 18 times their original size. The electric, vibrant colors of the flowers in the images are true but I did manipulate each image by taking exactly half the image, and mirroring it, thereby forcing a perfect symmetry upon the natural geometry of each flower.
I created these images to transcribe the intimate sensation of being alone in the drama of Monet’s garden when it’s in full-bloom. The saturation and array of colors is so vivid and encompassing you feel as if you’re swimming in it. This enveloping, surrounding sensation I found impossible to render until I began to look deeply into the flowers themselves, thinking clinically at first about their function, how their design attracts and lures the bees, birds, and bats whose frottage inside the flower stimulates its reproductive cycle.
In each of the Seducers, whether a peony, a water lily, a clematis, I wanted to give the viewer the perspective of an insect hovering in front of it. And in making it symmetrically perfect—akin to Hermann Rorschach’s ink-blotter tests—I wanted to enhance the almost kaleidoscopic sense of motion I found at the flower’s center. Stand before these images and watch what appears: faces and masks; mammals and insects; religious iconography: altars, angels, shivas, chalices, mandalas; patterns and forms that suggest baroque and art nouveau. The elegance of the flowers when flattened and scaled up becomes awesome, fleshy and even monstrous. I think of each of the Seducers as a portal into the startling intelligence found in a mindless organism.