flower (flou'er), n. 1. the blossom of a plant. 2. Bot. a. that part of a seed plant comprising the reproductive organs and their envelopes if any, esp. when such envelopes are more or less conspicuous in form and color. b. an analagous reproductive structure in other plants, as the mosses. 3. a plant considered with reference to its blossom or cultivated for its floral beauty. 4. a state of efflorescense or bloom: Peonies were in flower. 5. an ornament representing a flower. 6. any ornament or adornment. 7. See figure of speech. 8. the finest or most flourishing state or period, as of life or beauty. 9. the best or finest member or part of a number, body, or whole; the flower of American youth. 10. the finest or choicest product or example. 11. flowers, (construed as sing.) Chem. a substance in the form of a fine powder, esp. as obtained by sublimation: flowers of sulpher. -v.i. 12. to produce flowers, as a plant; blossom; come to full bloom. 13. to come out into full development; mature. -v.t. 14. to cover or deck with flowers. 15. to decorate with a floral design. [MEflourflower, best of anything. Cf. blossom] -flow'er·like', adj.
Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder were murdered in their home in Happy Valley, California, on July 1, 1999. Their naked bodies were found in their bed with multiple gun shot wounds by Matson's brother. Matson was a horticulturist and a founder of the Redding Aboretum and the Carter House Science Museum. Mowder was a recent graduate of Chico State University. The suspected murderers were brothers Benjamin and James Williams of Palo Cedro. Their possession of Matson's stolen wallet with credit card, driver license, and social security card led authorities to the brothers. The Williams brothers are believed to be members of a white supremacist group and are believed to be perpetrators of other hate crimes besides this gruesome double murder.
Teena Brandon lived in Humboldt, Nebraska, in 1994, shortly after beginning to live full-time as a man in preparation for eventual sex-change surgery. She easily passed in Humboldt as a man, but was discovered to be biologically and legally female by local police following her arrest on a misdemeanor check forgery charge two weeks prior to her slaying. Police publicly released this information to the local newspaper, the Falls City Journal. One week later, on Christmas Day 1994, Brandon was raped and assaulted at a Christmas party by two men whom she had befriended. Despite the fact that they had threatened to kill her if she reported the incident, Brandon later identified them to local police as Nissen and Lotter. Although charges of rape and assault were not filed against them, on New Year's Eve, in retaliation for reporting the rape, the two men fatally shot her.
Matthew Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming, had been lured from a campus bar shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998, by two men who told him they were gay. He was driven to a remote area near the Sherman Hills neighborhood east of Laramie, tied to a split-rail fence, tortured, beaten, and pistol-whipped by his attackers, while he begged for his life; he was then left for dead in near freezing temperatures. A cyclist who found him on Snowy Mountain View Road at 6:22 pm, some 18 hours after the attack, at first mistook him for a scarecrow. He was unconscious and suffering from hypothermia. Shepard's face was caked with blood, except where it had been partially washed clean by tears. He died at 12:53 am on Monday, 12th October, 1998, at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his family at his bedside.
Billy Jack Gaither was brutally beaten to death on February 19, 1999, in Sylacauga, Alabama. Gaither's body was bludgeoned with an ax handle and his throat was slit before the body was thrown on top of a pile of tires and set on fire. Charles Monroe Butler and Steve Mullins confessed to the murder several weeks later. Butler who was sometimes considered Mullins' "sidekick" came to the authorities first. It was Mullins who actually killed Gaither while Butler stood by as an accomplice and watched. Mullins, who was a former skinhead, is believed to have been in a physical relationship with Gaither. During the trial Mullins stated that Gaither "didn't need to live any longer," and that he had to kill him, "'cause he was a faggot." In August 1999, both Butler and Mullins were sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
Roxanne Ellis and Michelle Abdill, partners in a Medford, Oregon real estate agency, were murdered by Robert Acremant, supposedly because they refused to give him money during a hold up. Later Acremant admitted, however, that he killed the couple because he hated gays and bisexuals. According to Acremant, he had previously investigated the women's backgrounds. Through the county's public records showing their joint ownership of their business and home, he had concluded that they were lesbians and that "there was no man around." On December 4, 1995, Acremant made an appointment with Ellis to see a property at 11am, and held her hostage there. Around 5pm, some six hours later, he had Ellis call Abdill to come to the property to help "jump start her stalled car." The two women's bound and gagged bodies were found three days later with gun shot wounds to their heads.
On March 21, 2000, Steen Fenrich's skull was found with several other body parts in two food containers at Oakland Lake Park in Queens, New York. The words "gay nigger number one" was found written on the bleached skull along with his social security number. The 19 year old had been missing since September 1999, when he tried to move back home with his mother and stepfather, following a break-up with his boyfriend. On March 22, after a seven-hour standoff with the police, Fenrich's stepfather, John Fenrich, shot himself to death. During the standoff, the elder Fenrich admitted to killing his stepson because he disapproved of his homosexuality. Apparently, the elder Fenrich was embarrassed that his stepson had been discharged from the U.S. Army, after only nine months of service, because of his homosexuality.
Flowers for... is an ongoing series to memorialize some of the men and women who were victims of hate crimes. There are too many victims so I, unfortunately, cannot mention every one. However, this work is done in remembrance of all victims of hate crimes.
My intention for creating this work is to keep these names alive. I hope the observer will recognize the senselessness of these deaths and keep in mind that there is still much work to do. Perhaps one day we can all live together in harmony and celebrate our differences.
Each piece is a one-of-a-kind combination of digital imaging and paper sculpture, 22" x 28" framed.