Pandemic Flowers: A Bicoastal Conversation is a two-person exhibition which features the botanical paintings of Pia De Girolamo and the photographs of Laurel Termini. De Girolamo’s paintings were inspired by Termini’s photographs of plants in the Huntington Gardens in Los Angeles near her home during the pandemic. Termini took these photographs with an iPhone and originally posted them to Instagram. Her photographic prints retain the same square format typical of that social media site. De Girolamo’s interpretations were created thousands of miles away in her studio just outside Philadelphia. They range from small paintings of a few specimens to large, colorful groupings of plants and flowers rendered on a variety of square and rectangular canvases and panels.
Though living on opposite coasts, the two artists found a creative and collaborative way of coping with the stresses and losses of the pandemic. Termini, a dentist, continued working during the lockdown and being on the front lines of health care was taking its toll. To de-stress, she made weekly trips to the Huntington Gardens to enjoy and photograph the plants and flowers, which she then analyzed and edited in photoshop. In each photograph she emphasizes a particular aspect of a subject. It could be the sculptural feeling of a flower or plant emphasized by the play of light and shadow, or it could be the interplay of lines, or the contrast of colors. Some subjects have an air of mystery, others are playful.
De Girolamo noticed her friend’s photographs while scrolling through Instagram during the pandemic lockdown. Finding them soothing, and intriguing she asked Termini if she could use them as a jumping off point for her own work. So began a back-and-forth exchange of images and ideas. De Girolamo’s paintings echo some of the same themes in the photographs. For example, there is a sculptural quality seen in 'The Calla Lily is in Bloom Again' with a bright pink trumpet-like flower popping out from a dark landscape and there is a playfulness to the leopard peeking out of spiky Encephalartos leaves in the large painting 'In the Jungle'. There is also a poignancy to the small, quiet paintings of lotus leaves and pods that echo the sadness of the pandemic.
The botanical subject matter of this joint exhibition of paintings and photographs will be a source of well-being to viewers. It will bring joy and a sense of uplift but also a comforting sense of losses shared. In addition, the aspect of collaboration between these two artists is in itself an inspiration for people to reach out to others in times of stress to create something beautiful. The artists may have been locked in but they still reached out to each other not merely via a screen but through the creative process.
Pandemic Flowers: A Bicoastal Conversation by Pia De Girolamo and Laurel Nevarte Termini will be on view in Gallery 2 at Da Vinci Art Alliance starting May 3rd until May 21st. The opening reception will take place on Thursday May 4th, 4-7pm.