James Prosek:
Three Americans, 2014


Artist’s Statement

My work takes its inspiration from the long history of humans depicting things in nature—from paintings on cave walls 40,000 years ago to the works of Albrecht Durer, William Blake, and John James Audubon.  In addition to being influenced by nature already processed by others, I also work from first hand experiences in nature, in my backyard and in distant places around the world.

My work is conceptually focused on how we name and order nature, what it means to join words to the world, the limitations of language in describing biological diversity and systems we use to try to harness nature—our classifications and taxonomies.  The realms that science cannot quantify or solve, the space between physical objects, the power and relevance of personal experience are my fertile ground.  I have participated in collecting trips and biological expeditions to places as diverse as Suriname and Kyrgyzstan, in roles resembling scientist and artist.  And although I make faithful renditions of nature in my own way, I recognize that any depiction of nature is suffused with imagination.  Sometimes I let imagination play a greater role in the interpretation.

As a visual artist and a writer I like to question accepted notions of how we understand and interpret the natural world.  I want to make works that invite us to reflect on what the systems we use to communicate nature say about our culture, our priorities, and our values.  Some of my works also highlight the loss of biodiversity and extinction.  The large swordfish in the exhibition was made to show, in full size and color, the monumental creatures we are losing from our oceans.  The hybrid creatures and tool creatures that I make highlight the resilience of nature—despite our best efforts to control and influence evolving life, it will continue in some form or other.  The creativity in evolutionary processes is boundless—how could you not stare in wonder at the artistry of nature itself?

Exhibition Artwork


Installation Photos (Wondrous Strange)

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