Flourishing: the Dancing Azalea

A few days ago I walked into the bonsai courtyards at the Chicago Botanic Garden and decided to see what I could find there through my viewfinder.  The whole idea of bonsai seems to me to be an abstraction of nature–creating a perfectly controlled, beautiful miniature plant.  So just “taking” a picture of a bonsai seems to be not much more than recording the abstraction created by the gardener.  But, I was drawn to the azalea bonsai, which was perfectly in bloom and beautiful beyond words.


The image is pleasing to me despite its imperfection (do you see what?).  I had decided to extend my photographic thinking for this summer to include “flourishing” as a theme and this seems to fit.  But flourishing can be much more, and I was thinking that images of flourishing might go beyond the very literal, using the expressionist approach of capturing images with a moving camera.

So, here it is, the Dancing Azalea.

Bonsai-3 Bonsai-2

Bonsai-5 Bonsai-4 Bonsai-6 Bonsai-8 Bonsai-7


At first I wanted to go back and try again, but I suspect it is already too late! And the idea of “dancing” did not come until the wee hours of this morning.  As a sequence the images convey shaking and shimmying, each move with the gesture and personality of a dancer. I then thought of a sequence of photos taken by my sister of my Dad a few years ago, dancing and conducting to Mozart in his wood shop with the most delighted expressions on his face.


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