How to See a Framed Flower

© Copyright 2017 Samantha Lacy, Ryerson University.

Flowers are a common indicator of spring, as buds develop in fields and dandelions sprout up alongside the warm weather. Flowers have also been associated with various social circumstances or holidays and have been deemed markers of love, death, or celebration. Popular flowers such as roses or baby’s breath are not necessarily thought of as everyday shrubbery in nature and gardens or wild flowers, but rather are reminiscent of bouquets from flower shops and happy occasions. Baby’s breath specifically became one of the most popular flowers to decorate bouquets in 1990 (Carina A. Baskett et al., 411). Although, this flower species also known as Gypsophila Paniculata, the main focus of the photo “Framed Flower”, is seen in its natural habitat as an invasive species or noxious weed that grows in dune areas of the U.S.A and often leads to the death of rare local flowers (Carina A. Baskett et al., 412). The other small white flowers in the frame are common shrubs native to Southern Europe, known as Philadelphus Coronarius or Mock Oranges, as they have an orange-like fragrance to the blossoms (Czigle et al., 423). The flower’s extract is also used in homeopathic remedies and essential oils (Czigle et al., 424). These plants, when taken outside of their natural environment take on a whole new meaning and evoke different emotions and connotations when viewed in commercialized contexts or individual sprigs, as they are in the glass frame that is pictured in the image “Framed Flower”.

Taking flowers from their natural place in our ecosystem to

A glass case frame holding flowers
Samantha, Lacy. “Framed Flower”, Ryerson University, 2017.

grow and sell them as commercial entities can within itself be a new way of seeing a flower, but what does it mean to see a flower within a frame on a wall. What does framing a half-dead piece of nature mean? Why is it there? Why is it positioned this way?

Being framed often signifies importance, something that brings joy or is worth remembering, as you would frame a family photo. Framing these flowers means that they are worth looking at and should be of value to the seer. Looking at the object in “Framed Flower” inspires a sense of awe at the sweet delicacy of the baby’s breath with its long and thin stems and small buds, not allowing its daintiness to be overlooked or lost as it may in a bush. The importance given to this plant life by putting it in a frame means that it is designed to be seen as beautiful, special, and most likely as art. Upon looking at the arrangement one notices that the baby’s breath is representative of trees and the small mock orange flowers as stars in the imagined sky, creating a type of landscape portrait.

The flowers as preserved in the glass slates of the frame are in a liminal space between life and death or decay, perhaps symbolizing the greater landscape that is formed by their arrangement as also being on the verge of death: global warming. The framed flowers, viewed as mundane, living, and abundant in their own habitat have become paradoxical representations of the individual and the collective due to the single bits and pieces of the flowers isolated in the frame and their arrangement into their broader, threatened habitat. The beauty of the flowers in the frame speaks to the need to take notice of the life of such delicate nature in our world. As these flower species are not rare but quite common, their presentation here allows for a new viewpoint, in which the frame is utilized to shape the notion that the preservation of one flower’s unique beauty should spread to the preservation of nature as a whole.

Works Cited

Baskett, Carina A., Sarah M. Emery, and Jennifer A. Rudgers. “Pollinator Visits to Threatened Species Are Restored Following Invasive Plant Removal.” International Journal of Plant Sciences, vol, 172. no. 3, 2011, pp. 411–422.

Czigle, Szilvia et al. “Identification of the Components of Philadelphus Coronarius L. Essential Oil.” Journal of Essential Oil Research, vol. 18, no. 4, 2006, pp. 423- 426.


Elkins, James. How to Use Your Eyes. Routledge, 2000.

Lacy, Samantha. “Framed Flower”, Ryerson University, 2017.

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.