Jennifer Thoreson, Photographer

Flora

Artist Statement

Flora is a collection of five photographs drawn from a long, solemn walk through the corridors and grounds of San Francisco’s infamous prison, Alcatraz. I am still in awe of the weight of the structure. I am haunted by the sounds of clanging metal echoing through corridors of endless concrete, strange forms and relentless repeated lines, cold, damp floors, flickering yellow lights and tiny, dark prison cells. Even more interesting was the lush flora that grew in pristine gardens, incredible varieties of plant life carefully arranged and dutifully cared for, eerily contrasting the ominous structure they so gracefully surrounded. While touring the prison, I learned that many of the prisoners of Alcatraz tended and cared for the flora on the island during their incarceration, a detail that I find especially curious. In this work, I photographed plant life from Alcatraz and combined it with five female figures posed like porcelain figures, like specimens, on linen cloth. I am interested in the absurdity of the ideal woman, her form, figure, and fragile, fleeting beauty. Each woman is presented as a precious icon, religious in nature, and doll-like. Continued growth and new life surrounding each figure suggests renewal, re-invention, and resilience. Flora is an illustration of perfectionism and confinement, coupled with an earnest celebration of the woman, her nature, and her continued strength.

Flora 1