My photo essay documents my daily life with plants. They help me when I'm feeling lonely, since they’re another type of life. It's also nice to watch them grow and take care of them since you always feel proud in the end. Usually after school I walk home through the trees and I take care of plants at home. From home to school there's always so many plants. From Melrose to Grand Concourse, just street after street in the Bronx. Yet the only thing that really catches my eye are the plants that bloom through the ground. The little small flowers that grow through cracks of concrete. There's always the giant trees that shadow over the people who walk under them. During COVID, there was no one really left to talk to. Everyone was forced away into quarantine and I had nobody to fill my photo albums with. The plants replace the absence of faces. I can always photograph the faces of plants when there's nobody to fill my photo album. I can take care of the giant succulent plants when my mom says having a cat would be too much work. Just like humans, each plant is unique and versatile in its own way.
The squirrels are always playfully tackling each other in the grass and climbing the trees as they scurry and hide.
The stray cats are running across the boundaries of grass and concrete while they jump on flowers and hide under cars. The flowers in the trees come and go, but the photographs keep them forever.
On sunny mornings the sun shines bright enough to make the leaves and flowers glow like Christmas lights.
In spring there's the giant cherry blossoms that tower the buildings, almost as if it were a competition. The different shades of color combine as the flowers’ petals layer on each other almost as if they were a painting. The rose vines race up the buildings like rain drops.
The pots and jars holding flowers add to the colors while they wait by the cobblestone. The gates holding wind chimes root into the ground while the sound of bells ringing fills the air as the wind blows. On rainy days, the humidity takes up the air and the pitter patter of rain replaces the sound of music. Later on the dew appears on small sprout leaves or on the baby cactuses I take care of at home. The raindrops race each other, all to be absorbed by local sprouts. The small rocks are hidden under the earth, small docile little rocks with permanent patterns on them.
Interview with the Artist
INTERVIEWER: What would your world look like without plants?
PAOLA SOTO: Most likely pretty bland, they take up a lot of space at home and I would have no motivation to take walks.
What’s your favorite plant in your neighborhood?
I don't have a specific favorite plant, but I like when plants are still baby sprouts.
Why did the plants become so important to you during COVID?
They were always kind of important, but they became more important since I was beginning to feel lonely and plants kind of filled that void of loneliness.
What are you thinking about as you walk around the neighborhood and look at plants?
Nothing really, if anything it's the only time where my mind is kind of empty and I feel like I'm at peace. Normally I would maybe play some music or think about books I've read while I'm walking though.
How do the plants and colors change throughout the seasons? What did you notice? What did you photograph?
In spring there's a lot of color since all of the flowers are blossoming, same with fall but for the opposite reason. Winter is a little dull which is why I don't really take photos during that time, and during the summer there's a lot of green, it's not as colorful as spring or fall but the plants are still there which is all that really matters.