Flowers, a beautiful piece of nature that we see almost every day, whether it is on the side of the road while you are driving, on someone’s shirt that you pass by or in a vase on your dorm windowsill. No matter where it is that we seem to find flowers, almost all people can agree on the beauty and joy that the different shapes, colors and sizes bring into the world. They allow us to simply stop and take a moment to appreciate the little things in life that we often pass by, hence the saying “stop and smell the roses.”
One person who seems to truly find joy in flowers is April Benson, an artist who currently has several of her artworks displayed in the Te Paske Gallery here on campus. Her work titled “An Homage to The Creation of Flowers” contains 11 separate pieces all of different flowers at separate stages of their growth. Benson uses oil paints on canvas on all except one of the paintings which is acrylic paint on canvas. Benson prefers oil paint because “Oils allow me to paint and still be a mommy, and they are my preferred media. When you have a 4-year-old that wants to snuggle you and a 1-year-old that wants held while you are in the middle of a painting you can put your brush down and not worry if it will dry and ruin your brush.”
Using flowers as a muse or a sense of inspiration was no coincidence for Benson, she did not paint them simply because she felt like she had to. Rather, she chose flowers for how complex they are, how each type has a different purpose, color or smell. Benson uses flowers as a way to live out her faith towards God and honor His creation. “I looked at something beautiful and painted it beautifully, trying to imitate God’s creation with the same goal of luring the viewer in.”
Benson reaches her goal of luring in the viewer. Each separate piece has vibrant colors, different shapes and perspective that makes it seem as if the flowers pop out of the canvas. It is refreshing to see that almost each piece is a single flower, rather than a group of flowers. It allows for the viewer to honor one flower at a time. It allows viewers to stop and think about that flower, how it looks, how it would smell and if they have ever seen It in real life.
This thought provoking is masterfully set up by Benson. “I wanted to capture the weight of the peony almost drowning in its million petals, the rigid firmness of the tulip, the flyaway softness of the gladiola, the sensation of the morning sun on the rose and the feeling the ranunculus was opening even as you looked at it.” Benson’s intentionality allows for each flower to be gazed at for several minutes, and just when a viewer thinks they have noticed everything, they can tilt there head and see that some of the pedals are wilting.
Each flower is able to tell a story both with its title and with its presence. A piece titled “Grocery Store Carnation” perfectly captures the bright colors as well as the wilted edges that you may often see in flowers bought from a grocery store. Benson even includes an Orange City favorite with her piece “Orange Tulip” this piece captures the structure and vibrance of tulips that seem to be oh so popular around here.
Whether you can tell what species a flower is just by looking at it or you simply just enjoy seeing a flower every so often, you should put a visit to view this work towards the top your list. We can all learn something from Benson in the way that she honors God by doing work that she loves.