Special occasions. Weddings, funerals. Lover days and mamma days. A wrist corsage the size of your date’s forearm for a high school dance. A cheesy apology. In East Asia, I used to buy bunches of small white flowers to breathe some life into my drab government-owned apartment. I’d get funny looks from the cashiers. I figured it was the whole “oh look at the sensitive foreign man buying flowers in our patriarchal culture” thing, but later learned that the flowers I was purchasing every week signified death and were typically used only in funeral arrangements.
Currently, I’m living in Colombia where flowers are abundant, just part of the daily landscape. Flower shops, push carts on the side of the road, people selling flowers out the backs of cars. Flowers are part of everyday life and dirt cheap to boot. I know a woman that returns to the States at Xmas, filling two suitcases full of flowers for her family and friends. All of these flowers mean that there’s always a vase or two of them around the house which eventually make their way out to the studio and into a painting.