Herbarium

Here are some snapshots of my project for In-Site, including a few of the installation process. These are all enlarged images of weeds from South Orange, wheatpasted onto nearby buildings. Will be editing documentation soon!

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The Neighbors

I’m growing weeds in my backyard for my ArtBloc installation. I told the neighbors it’s for an art project, but they still seem a little confused.

When you are questioning value systems by collecting and using undervalued resources, this is part of the deal. You get some weird looks.

But I’ve been picking up trash for over a decade now. It doesn’t really bother me anymore.

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Terrarium

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I’m going to be doing a public installation in ArtBloc in September. Here’s a description:

I am converting these windowed containers into a giant terrarium, to be filled with weeds collected from Hamilton Park with the help of the Greens Group volunteers. Throughout the two month period, the installation will be constantly changing and growing. It will act as a foil to the domesticated space of the park, a wild place within the city, encouraging viewers to look at the overlooked.

Here are some weeds we collected last Saturday. Stay tuned!

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New Artist Statement

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As a sculptor, my artistic strategy involves re-contextualizing existing elements: presentation rather than representation. My process is resourceful, responsive, and playful. I spend as much time researching, exploring sites, and scavenging for materials as I do making.

I often work with junk and junk-spaces: materials and places that are overlooked, untended, and thus host to numerous extraordinary possibilities; places where artifacts accumulate and history is most visible. I am also interested in the intersection of nature and culture, including the varied representations of plant-life for commercial and decorative purposes.

I produce public interventions, work for traditional gallery settings, web-based projects, and publications. I learn different things from each way of working.

IN-SITE Proposal

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As an artist, I am interested in the intersection of nature and culture, including the way that we humans represent plant-life in illustrations, advertisements and logos, as well as for decorative purposes. The many representations of nature are, in my estimation, about as numerous and varied as real plant species. They range from the most simple geometric shapes to detailed illustrations and photographs, sometimes referencing existing or even imaginary species. As we are increasingly separated from direct contact with wilderness, these representations can sometimes stand in for the real thing. I’ve been playing with this idea in projects such as the fabric sculpture Canopy (2010), my collage series Field Studies (2011), as well as my recent public sculpture on Randall’s Island, New Growth (2013).

I propose to create a conceptual project in which I collect and scan real leaves from downtown South Orange and the park area as well as representations of leaves also found in the downtown area, such as those printed on packaging in stores, signs, on clothing fabric, decorative fake plants, elements of logos, architectural elements reminiscent of plants, etc. I will organize these “specimens” into a digital herbarium in the form of a website with accompanying information about each leaf (photos of the leaves as they were found, along with information such as location, context, size, and species).

I will also enlarge several of these images to approximately 2 feet tall (quite possibly larger) and wheatpaste them onto walls in public space throughout the downtown area. A QR code symbol will accompany each leaf which will lead viewers to the project website. This will function as a dispersed “natural” history display.

Wheatpasting is a temporary way to adhere paper to an outdoor wall. It’s made of water, flour, and sugar. It can last for months in an outdoor location. Wheatpasted images can be removed with hot water.

QR Codes are square black and white bar codes which can be scanned using smart phones. These codes can have web addresses embedded in them. Scanning the code will take you to the website.

Images attached:

1. Examples of leaves and leaf imagery found in downtown South Orange.

2 & 3. Digital collage of wheatpaste installation for one leaf.

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Field Trip

A couple months ago, Mike and I visited Jackie at her job cataloging insects at the Natural History Museum.

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I’m thinking of doing a taxonomy project myself, so I wanted to see how it’s done by professionals… how the bugs are stored, what types of programs they use to digitize the info, what sort of data they track, etc.

These are the notes I took:

NYC Surplus Property – Where I might be able to buy display drawers and cases on the cheap.
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MySQL – A database programming language. Seems pretty hardcore. I want a real database, but not sure I’ve got the patience for learning a computer language. A friend who works in archiving suggested Tumblr and getting some of the functionality of a database with tagging. However, that only allows for searches using one criteria. But maybe I’ll start there.
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Morphological Key – A kind of guide or document that helps you identify & classify a specimen. Need to read more about this.
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Leaf Snap – An app that helps ID plants based on pictures you take of leaves and upload. More about this in a future post.
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The Stray Shopping Carts of North America: A Guide to Field Identification – By Julian Montague. Bought it and love it. More about this in a future post.
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Clustering Algorithm – Need to read more about this.
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Above: It’s hard to see here, but each insect has a tiny QR code which can be scanned and then brings up all the info about that specimen.
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Above: Number of bugs Jackie has digitized.
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