What happens when a photographer and floral designer collaborate? The answer is OVERGROWTH, a book of photographs by Parker Fitzgerald and Riley Messina, of Ransom Limited and Erba Floral Studio, respectively. Over the course of two years, the pair made more than 100 images combining nude and clothed human bodies with flowers and leaves. The images bring a woodsy, minor-key esthetic to an abundance of flowers, which take many forms—they are braided into garlands and sprout from the ground or grow on the branches of trees. Others are submerged under water or float on its surface; they are reflected in mirrors and obscure the faces of portrait sitters; they hide and reveal the bodies of nude models and women dressed only in diaphanous sheaths.
In the book’s introduction, Fitzgerald describes the start of the project in the spring of 2013, when he and Messina “had an off-the-cuff idea to shoot simple photos of our friends with branches of flowering trees. At the time, it was an excuse to collaborate on something beautiful without having to spend very much money—starting in about March, Portland,” (Oregon, where the pair are based,) “erupts with all kinds of flowering plants: cherry, apple, and pear trees, magnolia, dogwood, forsythia, and camellia.” The project grew to include more complex scenarios, and made stops as an exhibition in Tokyo and Osaka before becoming the first book published Ransom Limited, a two person photo house run by Fitzgerald and his brother James.
Fitzgerald wonders in the introduction if focusing on the pursuit of beauty was enough to sustain the project. “We weren’t sure if we had a message worth conveying, but we were confident in our skills, proud of the images, and eager to keep working. In the end, we decided simply to serve beauty. In that way OVERGROWTH is a very straightforward project; the images are intended to be beautiful and nothing more. But in my wilder dreams I hope [it] will help to call the viewer towards a deeper something—perhaps even to be transfixed, if only for a second or two longer than usual. What else can an image hope to do?” In an artists statement, the pair come to terms with their goal: “We do not want merely to see beauty, we want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to become part of it.”
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