The Arctic Plants of New York City

Monday, November 18, 2013
6:30 – 8:30pm

James Walsh: The Arctic Plants of New York City (Granary Books, NY)

Artist and writer James Walsh shares the complex process of transforming his installation The Arctic Plants of New York City into a limited-edition artists' book, engaging guests in a discussion that revolves around aesthetic and technical concerns. 

"This project began in late 2008 with a question – are there 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 and interests coalesced. The short answer is yes, there are many species of plants that grow in both the Arctic and New York City, and for the past five years I’ve been collecting, pressing, and researching them, and following the chain of associations they inspire. At the heart of this project is the idea of mental travel, of finding plants here that transport me there, a quick and imprecise way of moving that has taken me to various locations in the territory where botany merges with literature and philosophy."  -James Walsh

Walsh has presented The Arctic Plants of New York City as an installation, and is now bringing its various elements together in a limited-edition artists’ book. The artist will share the difficult process of translating his wide-ranging project into a book that features botanical specimens, texts and personal writings, and that functions as a practical field guide as well as an essay on the link between botany and literature.

  White Clover,  Trifolium repens . Image courtesy of James Walsh.

White Clover, Trifolium repens. Image courtesy of James Walsh.


James Walsh was born in Brooklyn, New York. He studied literature at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY, and Oxford University, England, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. He has been making visual work in a variety of media since 1986, and has exhibited his work throughout the United States and Europe. Walsh is the author of three books: Foundations (1997), Solvitur ambulando (2003), and There was Something in the Weather (2012), as well as numerous unique and limited-edition artists' books. Awards and residencies include a Fulbright Fellowship to Turkey, an apexart Outbound Residency in Bangkok, and residencies at MacDowell Colony, The Edward Albee Foundation, Art Omi, Wave Hill, and The Center for Book Arts.


In attendance:
Ivana Mestrovic, Socrates Sculpture Park
Chris Murtha, The Horticulture Society of New York
Libby Pratt, visual artist & co-founder of New Draft Collective
Kyle R. Triplett, Rare Book Division, New York Public Library