The spaces we live in and the objects we fill them with help us define who we are. They make our lives richer and turn our dreams into reality. But as they open one door, they close another, restricting how we grow. Artist Diana Scherer explores this relationship between nurture and restriction in a series called “Nurture Studies.”

For “Nurture Studies,” Scherer planted flower seeds in vases filled with soil and watched them grow over a six-month period. Once the plants had matured and started to bloom, she removed the vases to expose the roots. The plants had developed root systems that had taken up all available space in the vases, so when their restrictions were removed, they still maintained the shapes. These were then photographed with backdrops of pastel blues, yellows, greens and purples. The photos look like they are straight out of a nineteenth century botanical encyclopedia. Scherer did not attempt any beautification of the plants and left them with leaves browning and flowers wilting. The photos were taken right at the peaks of the lives of the flower, just before they start to die. Life is after all about growing, and when you stop doing this you atrophy and fade away.

While the vases provided the proverbial fertile soil for these plants to flourish, they could only support them for so long. Soon they became hindrances to further growth, a beautiful metaphor for so much in life.