The paintings collected in Clare Rojas’ new book Everything Flowers seem to come from no time or place, rootless wives’ tales made real in bright color by Rojas’ hand. In the foreword to the collection, Natasha Boas writes that Rojas’ work alchemizes Quaker art, Latino folk art and Native American craft, and while that’s certainly true, her connection to tradition feels more unconscious than that, like a woman telling Earthy, ancient stories the only way she knows how.
Everything Flowers is, as the title suggests, inspired by plant life. Rojas filled the book with ecological images and short factual anecdotes about flowers, informing readers about the philosophical symbolism of the Lily of the Valley and when to harvest plants for optimal drying. There’s a sugary sweetness to the book, but it’s kept from being too-cute or preciously twee by a sinister edge, wrinkled faces in the throws of violence or tulips dying en masse from an oversized, sweltering sun. It is folklore, after all, and Rojas knows that even the greenest fairy tales have lurking villains.