“What is real is not the external form, but the essence of things” ─ Constantin Brancusi

I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood in the Bronx, New York, where life was lived in black and white and shades of grey. Except on the weekends; only then was my life filled with color.

My father sold flowers on the weekends from the back of his truck ─ a decaying Army green 1943 Plymouth. Parked at a street corner in a gang-infested soon-to-be burned out area of the South Bronx, I’d stand on the rusty rear bumper yelling “Medio peso!!” ─ “50 cents a bunch!!” ─ trying so hard to be heard over latin-jazz-doo-wop-rock-’n-roll music, a cacophony of sounds and sights, and smells of cuchifritos and stale beer.

Roses, dahlias, lilac, iris, peonies and more. Thousands of them. Their fragrances, their colors, their textures all fill my memory. My father’s eyes happy and twinkling when we sold the whole truckload; tear-filled in the blistering heat of August when we didn’t.

Like most memories, some are faint while others remain sharp. I try to capture this same feeling and emotional abstraction in my photographs. As an adult, I have come to understand that within the black and white there exists many shades of grey.

Ethereal Essence is a photographic exploration of intimacy, sensuality, mystery and the seduction of memory. I seek to express the range of human emotions, dramas, wonderment and joy using botanical subjects as metaphor. I think of these images as revealing self-portraits.

All images were photographed in natural light at The New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Wave Hill.