At first, American Beauty (Study of Roses) appears purely aesthetic, with atmospheric lighting, dramatic angles, and a sharpened subject matter. Aubry’s artistic choices captivate our eyes even without the flowers’ typical allures of vivid color and velvety feel. But up close, dehydrated, veiny, insect-eaten petals and brittle leaves reconstruct our perception of roses—society’s symbol of all things beautiful, perfect, and “natural.” I wondered, why would Aubry, with his man-made camera and chemical production process, capture roses past their prime? Upon further research, I learned about 19th-century French roses—hybridized with Chinese roses and chemically altered to satisfy the tastes of society’s consumers. Aubry’s work opened new discovery channels for me to contemplate society’s concealed thorns and how they have shaped my own identity.