The Wallflower Series


Wallflower Series

Works about mental illness, sexual abuse, and relationships

This series has taken me a long time.  It is a large, ongoing body of work that I've held very dear, as some of my most vulnerable and delicate feelings are harnessed in these large works.  They demand attention in part because of their size, but also because of their content.

Words have all but failed me as I've tried to communicate my cycles of collapse and rejuvenation.  My struggle with mental illness is a lonely and isolated one, and so I’ve turned to flowers; Juxtaposing my sadness with their beauty and my melancholy with their grace.  Coalescing the flowers and the cyanotype into a single work, the flowers surround and support me. The images are as complex and they are simple, documenting events from my life’s story with beauty and heartbreaking emotion. 

Some criticism this series has received, all by men, is that these works are too subtle.   These works are unapologetically feminine.  How can a single photograph, printed by hand no less, at this scale ever be subtle?   The emotions they convey are contradictions, but the expressive tonal ranges of cyan are anything but subtle.  Blue is a very difficult color to make and historically cyanotypes have been used as contrast prints using only Prussian blue and white.  We are not used to seeing cyanotypes with such subtly and expansive range in one work.  This is a new visual language.

Field Of Innocence.jpg

The above work titled "Field of Innocence" measuring 36x36 is about the sexual assault I experienced as a child.  

Destines Inextricably Linked.jpg

Above 60x30, "Destinies Inextricably Linked" is about my relationship with photography and how, in a very literal sense, it has saved my life from suicide, depression, and much more. Giving me better coping skills and a tool to help me understand myself.

Below 20x24, "A Ten Year Declaration" a portrait (if you will) of my marriage at our ten year anniversary.  The texture of this work is thick and the marks made with intention.  I am the flower on the left.


Below first 48x36, "The Empress Of Winter"  I talk about HERE in an audio clip, is about depression.  If you take the time to listen to the audio clip, you'll learn about the Victorian Era language of flowers and how it plays a large role in understanding the visual language of these works.

Below second 40x30, "She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not" in a nuanced work about my relationship with my mother. 

Empress Of Winter.jpg

We give and receive flowers in times of trial and celebration.  Flowers are a solace, because flowers say what words can not.  As a collection these works beg the question, will I allow myself to love and be loved despite impossibly difficult circumstances?

These works are available for purchase, but as they continye to be shown in local exhibitions, please inquire directly to me via email at  Each is an edition of 1 mounted on a studio depth cradled wood panel. 

All are encaustic cyanotypes mounted using Lineco, a neutral ph adhesive and come with wire attached, ready to hang.

Ali Lanenga