New display at School of Dentistry features floral radiographs of the late professor Albert Richards3 min read
Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 25, 2023 – Six strikingly beautiful images of flower radiographs by the late professor Albert Richards now grace the walls of a third-floor lobby at the School of Dentistry.
Coordinated by dental school Chief of Staff Erica Hanss, the image installation is part of an ongoing addition of artwork after the completion last year of Blue Renew, the school’s major renovation and expansion.
Three of the captivating radiograph reproductions are positive images on white backgrounds and three are solarized versions with black backgrounds. They are accompanied by a panel with a photo of Richards and his biographical information.
A faculty member at the school from 1940-1982, Richards was a world-class expert on dental radiology. He used his expertise with X-rays to create artistic radiographs of flowers that show the intricate and beautiful internal elements within their external structures. The black-and-white radiographs, which became his lifelong hobby, appeared in text books, calendars, encyclopedias, museums and many magazines in this country and internationally. After retiring from the dental school, Richards published a book in 1990, The Secret Garden, which contains 100 of his best flower radiographs.
Kathy Richards of Ann Arbor, one of Albert and Marian Richards’ five daughters, visited the display recently. “I am thrilled and I think my sisters will be as well. It’s a great honor,” she said. “The sentence on the wall display from National Geographic magazine is so perfect: ‘He taught about teeth, but he thought about flowers.’ It’s true. That was his obsession, especially after he retired in 1982.”
After he became well-known for his flower radiographs, she said, people from around the Ann Arbor area would bring him their prized flower specimens that he could add to his collection. He also scouted the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market for new varieties. “Dad was always fascinated by flowers,” she said. “No matter how busy he was, he always had a garden and many flowers around the property. He enjoyed the interaction with people who loved flowers.”
Kathy Richards has created a website – flowerxrays.com – that displays hundreds of her father’s flower radiographs. She personally undertook the laborious process of digitalizing images for the website. They are just a portion of his total collection.
The new display is the second art installation at the dental school that is tied to Albert Richards’ radiographs. In December 2021, acclaimed artist Ralph Helmick, based in Newton, Massachusetts, installed a large sculpture, Perennial, that forms the image of a columbine flower as it hangs from the ceiling of the school’s three-story atrium. Inspired by a Richards’ radiographs of columbines, the sculpture is composed of more than 900 gold-leafed elements suspended by fine braided steel cables. The project was detailed in a previous story on the dental school website here, with additional details about Albert Richards.
The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral healthcare education, research, patient care and community service. General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan. Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies. Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide. For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at: www.dent.umich.edu. Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at email@example.com, or (734) 615-1971.