Madeline Djerejian nominates Brooklyn-based artist and writer James Walsh:
James is an artist and writer - yes. He’s also an ambulist, a botanist, a letter-writer, a letterpress printer, a gleaner, a humorist (of the dry variety), and more. His love of books, the deft way he layers his enthusiasms into his work, his dedication to the hand-made - these are all qualities that are inspiring to me.
His latest artist book, The Arctic Plants of New York City, is a truly gorgeous object. Rich with word and image, it has a simplicity that is deceptive: each copy of the edition presents carefully researched natural history alongside prose essays, poetry, quotations, and personal letters, yet each is unique in containing numerous pressed plants he unearthed in the city’s parks or simply in the cracks of sidewalk pavements.
James and I are friends, so I like to tease that he’s both ‘creator and destroyer’ because all the plant forms in his work met death at his hand. Pressing plants is never easy; I know James felt loss on those rare instances he failed in this task. But to see his successes – demure arctic flora such as Trifolium repens (White Clover) or Galium aparine (Cleavers) – delicately splayed across an expanse of white pages is to recognize and celebrate the beauty of the survivor. I love that James has endowed these silent, desiccated forms with an uncanny life far beyond that which Nature herself would have allotted them.
New York City, 2016
Work by James Walsh:
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