The exhibition invites visitors to experience emotionally resonant connections to the profound loss of natural diversity caused by human-induced climate change. The exhibition urges us to ask, “What do Thoreau’s findings tell us about what plants are winning, and what plants are losing, in the face of climate change today?”
Exhibition is open through November 2023
Robin Vuchnich, a new media artist, user experience designer, and an Assistant Professor of the Practice at North Carolina State University, leveraged the digitized specimens to craft an immersive experience in the gallery theater. Animations of the herbarium images and soundscapes recorded at Walden Pond offer a compelling visual experience that features scientific data about species in decline.
Leah Sobsey, Artist, Curator, Associate Professor of Photography, and Director of the Gatewood Gallery at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, created a luminous series of large-scale plant portraits using cyanotype on glass backed with 23k gold, a nineteenth-century photographic process that relies on UV light to create a distinctive Prussian blue tone. Additionally, Sobsey utilized all 648 digitized Thoreau samples, creating a stunning wallpaper consisting of original cyanotypes and digital imagery that tells a story of the survival and decline of plant specimens.
Scholars Dr. Charles Davis, Curator of Vascular Plants, Harvard University Herbaria; Dr. Marsha Gordon, Professor, North Carolina State University; and Dr. Emily Meineke, Assistant Professor, University of California, Davis, inform the exhibition’s scientific dimensions and intellectual framework. Together, scholars Davis, Gordon, and Meineke worked in collaboration with artists Sobsey and Vuchnich to shape the vision for and experience of this multi-sensory exhibition.
Shop sustainable masks, pillow covers, and hand towels featuring cyanotype prints of Thoreau’s Specimens at LEA Studios.
Learn more about the exhibition by listening to our recent HMSC Connects! podcast featuring a conversation between host Jennifer Berglund, biologist Emily Meineke, and artists Robin Vuchnich and Leah Sobsey.