Petal Power | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian

Petal Power

Petal Power

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Who can imagine a more perfect confluence of design, function and beauty than that represented by the simplest flower? Any one of its attributes alone is miraculous: the vivid or subtle display of color; the exquisite dance of sepal, petal, stamen and pistil; the complex and wondrous fragrance that no perfume can improve upon. Each year flowers call our attention with quiet insistence to the eternal rhythms of nature, striking a resonance that lies deep within us.

Photographer Amy Lamb acknowledges that it was the sheer beauty of flowers that led to her dramatic career shift from work as a scientist at the National Institutes of Health. A photography course at the Smithsonian Institution so inspired the PhD molecular biologist that she decided to devote herself to photographing flowers full-time. It's lucky for us that she did. Lamb creates prints that have a painterly look by digitizing her photographs and printing them on an Iris Graphics printer, which sprays archival inks onto watercolor paper.

Lamb would surely agree with the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, who wrote in early spring, "And 'tis my faith that every flower / Enjoys the air it breathes."

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