As most any high school poet can tell you: flowers die, and that’s a metaphor. The unpacking of the beauty in preservation and decay is on display in Hiberna Flores, a colorful two-woman show at Oakland University Art Gallery featuring large-scale botanical photography by Laurie Tennent in conversation with a living (and dying!) installation piece by floral artist Lisa Waud, of pot & box.
“An exciting part of this project was the frisson of a photograph of a flower next to the living object,” said curator and Oakland University Art Gallery Director Dick Goody, in an email interview following a gallery tour. “And how, over time, the balance shifts from a clinical photographic image of a bloom, which is the role of the indexed image placed beside the real thing, to a situation where the real flowers wither and die.”
Waud’s installation has three pieces: a proscenium of branches and hanging flowers that act as a gateway into the main gallery; the central installation—what were mostly withered remains of a jumble of logs and branches when viewed two weeks after the exhibit’s January 7th opening; and a small, altar-like structure in the second gallery, which held one remaining live plant in a kind of worshipful stasis under a glass dome. These pieces, continuously fading and changing throughout the exhibition run, stand in sharp contrast to Tennent’s macro-focused floral compositions on black backgrounds, the subjects caught at the peak of their vitality and beauty.