Taking the peony—from budding through blossoming to wilting away—as a metaphor for our transient and fleeting everyday experiences, Jean Sousa’s thirteen digital and digitally altered color photographs of the life-cycle of the flower move between soft and atmospheric abstractions, and harsh and densely, deeply detailed studies. The two directions are not random; the suggestive abstractions dominate the phases of growth and maturity, and the enhanced representational shots are concentrated in the period of decline and death. In Sousa’s vision, the richly delineated impressions of the end of life—withering yet intensely colored—blow away the vagueness of youth. At the finale, dead yellow petals that still hang on form a carpet over the scattered remaining pink and white ones, symbolizing past vitality that carries over into the first movement of the next visual symphony. (Michael Weinstein)
Through September 30 at the Chicago Photography Center, 3301 North Lincoln.