James Prosek: The Spaces in Between
September 1, 2013 - January 5, 2014
Taking inspiration from the long tradition of natural history painting—from animal depictions on cave walls to the works of Albrecht Durer, William Blake, and John James Audubon—as well as contemporary influences as diverse as Lee Bontecou, Mark Dion, Martin Puryear, and Eero Saarinen, James Prosek’s work questions accepted notions of how we understand and interpret the natural world. Examining the ways in which we name and order nature, the systems we use to try to harness nature, our classifications and taxonomies, and the limitations of language in describing biological diversity, Prosek invites us to reflect on what these systems say about our culture, our priorities, and our values.
Ranging from the compellingly realistic to the inventively fanciful, the exhibition includes meticulously rendered paintings, monumental watercolors, and taxidermied specimens, many of them referencing the artist’s extensive travel, collecting trips, and biological expeditions to places as distant and diverse as Suriname and Kyrgyzstan. The exhibition also includes wall murals created especially for this installation.
Exquisitely crafted, frequently witty, and always thought-provoking, Prosek’s art invites viewers to engage with realms that science cannot quantify or solve—those spaces in between fact and folklore, science and myth, real and imagined.
James Prosek was the Edward E. Elson Artist in Residence for fall 2013.
This exhibition was generously supported by Edward P. Bass (Phillips Academy Class of 1963) on his 50th reunion (by The Bass Foundation).