"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." - Gertrude Stein
From her poem, Sacred Emily.
The rose, rich with meaning and cultural weight, has become somewhat of a polarizing object. One either looks forward to receiving a dozen roses and sees it as a grand romantic gesture, or gets hives at the prospect of receiving a handful of cliches. Either way, it’s not the actual rose we are responding to.
Gertrude Stein saw the way that this kind of symbolic baggage tended to weigh down literature and the artistic process, locking the writer into certain choices dictated by the stifling stranglehold of cultural meaning. In an attempt to reclaim the word’s concrete truth and the actual objects they symbolize, she came up with the mantra-like phrase “rose is a rose is a rose” and repeated it in her work. We love the way it forces you to say the word over and over until it becomes almost strange, stripped bare to a series of sounds. In this illustration, the repeated word rose transforms into an image of a rose using the same ligatures of the original type - a nod to the mercurial nature of words as symbols. Sometimes a rose is a rose. It is what it is.