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In the early 1700s, Charles II of
Sweden introduced a new language
to Europe when he brought the
Persian poetical art called “the
language of flowers” to the west. In
this Romantic age, Europeans
became completely enthralled with
the idea that these clever
Easterners had a complete floral
language in which they could speak
without words, so that shy lovers
could freely express their affection,
rivals could subtly insult one
another, and the veiled ladies of the
harem could receive sub rosa
messages from secret lovers.

In 1819, a “Mme de la Tour”
published The Language of
Flowers in France.  It was widely
acclaimed and quickly imitated.
These floral dictionaries were
compiled from widely variant and
highly dubious sources. Where no
meaning could be found, they
simply made them up. Later
refinements dictated syntax in this
language as well—the
presentation, orientation,
combination, and state of bloom
could change or even reverse the
meaning of a particular flower. A
sweetheart who received a bouquet
might wring out several (often
contradictory) interpretations from
this “message”.

Using this as a starting point, I am
reinterpreting these flower
meanings, both lexically and
visually. My examination of the
flowers is close-up and intimate,
emphasizing color, texture, and
transformation rather than a
traditional, faithful rendering (or
“portrait”) of the flower structure.
This also allows the viewer to
interpret them personally, and make
his/her own contemporary