The Arctic Plants of New York City


Trifolium repens, White Clover

OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday, December 4, 7 to 10 PM
ON VIEW: Saturday, December 4 - Sunday, January 23, 2011
HOURS: Thursdays & Fridays 3-6; Saturdays & Sundays 12-6

Observatory is pleased to announce our new exhibition, The Arctic Plants of New York City by artist and writer James Walsh. The opening will be Saturday, December 4, from 7 to 10.

This project began with a thought - I wonder if there are any arctic plants in New York City? I had been collecting and pressing plants and reading about the history of botany, and had long been interested in the arctic and the search for the Northwest Passage and the explorations of naturalists looking for plants and animals, and somehow all these ideas coalesced. The short answer is yes, there are many plants that grow in both the arctic and New York City. This installation is focused on pressed and mounted specimens of these plants, and includes some of the fruits of my ongoing research into their history and use, along with a select botanical library and somewhat relevant quotations from writers, travelers, and botanists.

I want to create a form of mental travel through actual objects. The writer and amateur botanist Jean-Jacques Rousseau presented a wonderful example of this type of travel when he wrote in the Seventh Walk of Reveries of the Solitary Walker (1782)

“All my botanical walks, the varied impressions made by the places where I have seen memorable things, the ideas they have aroused in me, all this has left me with impressions which are revived by the sight of the plants I have collected in those places.”

The difference is that I want to use the plants to call to mind and transport me to the arctic, a place I’ve never been and have often visited in thought.

James Walsh

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