Karen Reimer


"The lovely flowers embarrass me."

Emily Dickinson, letter to Lucretia Bullard, about 1864


"Colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects, which means that insects can see color. This adds a question: does aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic?"

Richard P. Feynman, 1981 interview BBC television program Horizon


"We make our houses and they turn upon us the image of our own taste and permanently fix it in our very nature.  Our works and our surroundings corrupt or refine our souls. The dwelling, the walls, the windows, the roof, the furniture, the pictures, the ornaments, the dress, the fence or hedge -- all act constantly upon the imagination and determine its contents.  If a family realizes this truth it will seek to beautify the objects which are silently and unceasingly writing their nature upon the man within the breast. Let us imagine a progressive woman in a village or town where the houses are bare, untidy, and ugly.  What can she do to communicate her higher ideals?   First she can invite some of her neighbors to sit with her occasionally while all discuss the art of making beautiful homes.  One such woman saw in the homes of her acquaintance who had abundant means but defective taste that many incongruous and unsuitable objects were tolerated.  Gaudy chromos disfigured the walls of rooms which were in other respects well furnished. Unbearable flames of tissue paper flowers were set in a fine vase."

Charles Richmond Henderson, The Social Spirit of America, 1908


"and rusty can strew the boat's route like sarcastic flowers"

Tom McCarthy, C, 2010


"I believe the right question to ask, respecting all ornament, is simply this; was the maker happy while he was about it?"

John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, 1849


"...the flower garden ablaze with beds of bright bloom interspersed with strawberries and tomatoes, the trees rising like a green wall, and exclaimed, "How beautiful!""

Gene Stratton-Porter, Girl of the Limberlost, 1909


"In an object of utility beauty is the sign of the pleasure the maker takes in his own activities.  It is the flowering of labor, the decoration of materials at the hand of a free workman. The new school brings art and labor into necessary association--labor to give substance, art to yield pleasure."

Oscar Lowell Triggs, "A School of Industrial Art," The Craftsman, 1903


"Don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. An adjective habit, a wordy, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice."

Mark Twain, 1880, letter to David Watt Bowser




Many many thanks to Jackie Neikamp, Robert Peters, Gladys Reimer, and Barbara Wakefield for their invaluable assistance with this series.