Photographic Survey of the Wild Edible Botanicals of the North American Continent
by J.W. Fike

springbeauty

Spring Beauty (2012)

 

mesquite

Mesquite (2014)

 

indianpaintbrush

Indian Paintbrush (2012)

 

londonrocket

London Rocket (2013)

 

 

wildonion

Wild Onion (2012)

 

passionflower

Passion Flower (2010)

 

dandelion

Dandelion (2012)

Within my system of photography the plant is excavated, arranged in the studio, photographed, and then illustrated digitally in such a way as to render the edible parts in color while the remaining parts, less emphatically, read as photograms. The plants in these images hover above an infinitely black space, referencing contact prints of botanical specimens from the dawn of photography and, perhaps, the collective unconscious. The 1:1 ratio of the photographs and their high resolution color-coding speak to hyperrealistic, virl, and scientific modes of imaging. The photographs serve as an archive for an uncertain ecological future, as a reliable guide for foraging, and as meditative symbols in communion with philosophical, spiritual, and ecological truths.

While this type of art may appear atavistic, its redeployment at this moment in history is vitally relevant to environmental issues. These edible plants grow all around us, in yards, alleys, ditches, and empty lots. Each testifies to our symbiotic evolution with all of life, and functions as both poetic metaphor and concrete proof of our intimate tether to the natural world. It is my hope that this art foments contemplative wonderment by offering viewers both information and insights that, if realized, kindle a reconnection to the natural world and a mystical counterbalance to scientific objectivism.

I envision this project as a thoroughly inclusive catalogue that will result in hundreds of photographs. Its aesthetic consciously combines empirical and visionary traditions by taking advantage of digital imaging’s capacity to create rhetorical shifts within the photograph itself. The resulting images are elegant, layered, historically aware, and endeavor to evoke mystery, amplify interconnectedness, and offer a critique of classical taxonomy.

To know the spirit of a place is to realize that you are a part of a part and that the whole is made of parts, each of which is a whole. You start with the part you are whole in.

Gary Snyder

 

Jimmy Fike

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