The Beauty of Decay Through the Life of a Flower

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By Jill Brooke

Falling apart doesn’t mean you lose your essence.

It is, as Sharon Johnson-Tennant’s award-winning work reveals, a process that leads to change which through her lens proves to be something not to be feared but embraced with grace.

Although the California-based photographer has roamed the world to some of the most desolate places to document the human condition – India, Borneo, Papua, New Guinea- these mood-enhancing floral photos were taken while being quarantined in California.

“This series I am particularly proud of as it was my first foray into the world of still life imagery using created and collected objects from my home,” she says. “I think there is a particular beauty in the decay of flowers. Their last dance. Full of spirit.”

Like much of her work, the awards and accolades soon started piling on like sweet peet mulch on a garden bed. There is a photojournalist clarity to her photos but the images are also infused and perfumed with a hopeful message.

Some of these images were presented at the Los Angeles Center of Photography and moderated by photographer and founder of Lenscratch, Aline Smithson.

In the past, the mother of four children also was awarded honorable mentions in the Fine Art and Nature categories, as well as a single image being awarded an Honorable Mention in the B & W category. 

Considering that there are now 18 million new gardeners as a result of Covid while nature pressed the pause button on our relentless fast-paced frenetic activity, seeking flowers for solace was not only her experience but a universal one.

“Everyone was managing loss in some way and seeking beauty,” she adds.

Perhaps that is why these photos have resonated and are selling so well at galleries including Robert Berman, Santa Monica, E6 Gallery in San Francisco and Art Project Paia to buyers who want less modern oil paintings and more photographic life renderings.

Framed flower photographs as interior decorator Debbie Spiro says is finding popularity for kitchens and bathrooms as well as hallways with photographers such as Isabelle van Zeijl , Nick Knight using flowers to advance their visions. Johnson is now joining that pantheon.

“Flowers were the metaphor of our Covid experience,” says Johnson.-Tennant. “As I walked through my neighborhood devoid of people and life, the only thing that became company were my observations of nature and I started seeing things I’ve never seen before.”

Which of course is what art truly is – seeing the ordinary and finding the extraordinary.








Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD and floral editor for aspire design and home magazine




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