Plants – both foliage and flowers – have long been inspirational elements to humans as we record the world in our artwork. Our fascination with them – nurturing them, sharing them, searching the earth for new forms – has contributed to their perpetuation. They, in turn, feed, clothe and shelter us. We, plants and humans, are involved in an eons old dialog.
I contribute to this dialog through my dual passions of photography and gardening. The Florilegium series has evolved along with my growth as a gardener and artist. Gardens are an easily accessible way to re-connect every day with the natural world, to be comforted by our place in it and to grow respectful of it.
Florilegium was borne of a desire to share my experience of my garden – my lessons from nature just beyond my back door. A consequence of our increasingly urban lifestyle is a disconnection from nature. It is critical to regain that connection. Art that refers to the natural world may help viewers rediscover their place in it.
I did not want to simply make pretty documents of flowers and landscapes, but rather create images that would invite viewers to look more closely with a gardener's eye at the subjects that fascinate me. After years of experimenting with many alternative photographic methods I discovered a photo-collage technique that allows me to meld images seamlessly, creating collages that move beyond realistic interpretations. I record the individual building blocks of the collages when the subjects are available, observing plants as they grow and bringing them to my studio when they’ve reached a stage that interests me. Later, I combine multiple images to create the final composition.
This ongoing body of work is done with the cameraless, filmless image technique that I have been working with since 1998. Cameraless images are as old as the photographic medium itself. Mine contribute to the tradition begun with Henry Fox Talbot's photogenic drawings of plants from the 1830s and Anna Atkin's cameraless botanical studies of algae and ferns form the early 1840s. New tools and techniques allow for a depth of exploration inconceivable to these first photographers.
It has been sixteen years since I made my first Florilegium images and botanical/natural subject matter still speaks to me. In the intervening years I have explored many new directions and subjects in other bodies of work. They contribute to the enrichment and evolution of Florilegium as the botanicals, in turn, inform and guide my hand in other work. Moving back and forth between natural subjects and human-made subjects, visual complexity and visual simplicity, full color and monochrome, is a synergistic way of working that suits me.
— Kim Kauffman