Herbarium Obscura
Shadow of Nature

Nature is ephemeral, fragile, and wild. Over time, we have learned to tame and control it: We grow lawns, cultivate houseplants, and manufacture synthetic facsimiles of nature for aesthetic and ornamental purposes. In this way and more, we manipulate how we experience and understand it.

In the series Herbarium, I employ real and artificial foliage to evince nature as a material and a motif. I documented a collection of leaf specimens using the cyanotype process, a photographic process popularized by amateur scientists and botanists in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. I created photograms using leaves that I gathered from the natural world and the commercial world of plant shops, and I included artificial leaves that I discovered in craft stores. I further blur the line of authenticity by incorporating inkjet prints that have supplanted a number of the original cyanotypes. Through this act, I question how technology informs our perception of the real.

As technology has advanced, modern, synthetic, decorative greenery is made from silk and polyester and finished with textured coatings that them give an exceptionally realistic look and feel, allowing them to go undetected by an untrained eye. This cultural fixation to manufacture a ‘natural fantastic’ out of synthetic materials fascinates and puzzles me.

These pieces document our contemporary landscape and explore the dichotomies between the natural and the artificial, revealing the multilayered structure of the natural world.