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Reenie Barrow

Lirios de Mexico V, 2019, Sepia toned photograph on watercolor paper, AP/5, Courtesy of the Artist.

Hear from the Artist



I invite the viewer to enter a world of imagination and contemplation with this image of Calla Lilies.  I became intrigued with Calla Lilies on a trip to Mexico several years ago.  Not only did I admire Mexican art that so prominently featured these flowers, but I couldn’t resist filling my house with vases of these compelling flowers. 

Sometimes they stood at attention,  sometimes  they drooped and hung their heads, and sometimes they leaned on each other for support.  It seemed that they told stories.  Throughout time, Calla Lilies have figured prominently in the work of Mexican artists and photographers.  I wanted to see what I might add to the mix.  Year after year I have traveled to Mexico and I approached  the task with the idea of using these flowers as metaphors.  Although these flowers had never been my subject to photograph up to this time, it became my challenge to tell their tales with my camera.  My goal was to make my photographs work on two levels…visual and emotional…to make them visually compelling as well as serving as catalysts for the viewer to contemplate words, sensations, memories, or even concepts.

I find I can most effectively allow each group of flowers to tell its story by using a simple dark background and relying on the balance, symmetry, and interaction between the flowers to create its tale.

I make my photographs using a medium format Hasselblad camera.  I use black and white film which produces a negative which is then scanned into a computer and printed on handmade watercolor  paper.  I have chosen a sepia pallet to enhance the lushness of the images.  I limit the number of each image printed to 5 with an artist proof.

The concept for this particular image began when I leaned an armload of calla lilies against a wall while I contemplated what to do with them.  I saw they already had decided what to do.  They became a little village of people.  Some standing upright at attention, some leaning into each other, and some not so sure what to do.  Well, there it was.  And I trained my camera on them and made this image.  

I include this image in a larger body of work which I think of as “the secret life of flowers.”