Crown of Flowers after Bouguereau
“Crown of Flowers after Bouguereau” is a deeply personal tribute and a reflection on the inexorable passage of time. It was 3,649 days before the opening of the exhibition for which this work was made that I experienced a devastating loss – the suicide of my dear friend who introduced me to the exquisite works of William Bouguereau, her favorite artist. A few days later, as if guided by the unseen threads of destiny, I found myself in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, standing in front of Bouguereau’s “Crown of Flowers,” where the sheer weight of my grief was laid bare.
This work is my dialogue with the past, as I revisit that transformative encounter through the lens of personal evolution. Using custom digital art studio software, a tool I constructed during the following years of my grief as a safe haven for expression, I’ve woven layers reminiscent of Bouguereau’s oil technique. The elder figure, rendered in an underpainting style, symbolizes the spectral yet formative presence of the past. Her unfinished form is both a tribute to the foundations on which we build, and a reminder that what lies beneath the surface shapes what we become.
By emphasizing a prickly weed and stones on the ground in this reimagining, I draw attention to elements present in Bouguereau’s original painting. Their bare feet, tender and unprotected, symbolize the vulnerability and openness with which we navigate the world. The enhanced prominence of the weed and stones in my work serves as a reminder of the hidden thorns and unexpected roughness that threaten even our most unguarded moments. They are a testament that amidst the blossoms, the sharpness of loss and adversity persists.
This piece seeks to foster curiosity about the intertwined stories of these figures, my connection to the artwork, and the transformative journey within. The temporal significance of this exhibition’s opening – 3,649 days marking a chapter – stands as a testament to how, through art, we can bear witness to our own metamorphoses.
As tomorrow dawns, marking the 3,650th day and the close of a decade since the loss of my dear friend, it whispers the promise of continuance. With each sunrise, we are granted the delicate power to carry our yesterdays into uncharted tomorrows, to honor the past as we layer day upon day, like brushstrokes of color, in the tapestry of our ongoing journey. Like the crowning of flowers in this artwork, may we embrace the gifts and lessons that our past bestows upon us, allowing them to adorn our lives with purpose and beauty. The underpainting, hidden yet foundational, is symbolic of the layers of our past that lie beneath the surface – shaping, supporting, and imbuing the present with depth and meaning. In the tender interweaving of sorrow and triumph, we find the seeds that we can plant, allowing the future to grow and blossom in gratitude toward our past.
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Exhibiting at The Seaport in New York City, July 13 – 31st 2023, curated by Paloma Rodriguez.
Based upon “Crown of Flowers,” 1884, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau in the collection of Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Crown_of_Flowers_(William-Adolphe_Bouguereau,_1884).jpg
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