James Prosek: Un-Natural History

Piece from James Prosek: Un-Natural History

James Prosek: Un-Natural History

The Bellarmine Museum

October 21, 2011 - January 27, 2012

Artist, writer, and activist James Prosek made his authorial debut at age nineteen, when he was still an undergraduate at Yale University, with Trout: an Illustrated History (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996).

This work established his reputation as a naturalist as well as a gifted artist, whose remarkably detailed watercolors reflect a seemingly boundless depth of talent. Prosek's paintings, which range from the compellingly realistic to the inventively fanciful, have been shown with the Gerald Peters Gallery (New York, NY and Santa Fe, NM); Meredith Long Gallery (Houston, TX); Wajahat/Ingrao (New York, NY); the d.u.m.b.o. arts center (Brooklyn, NY); Reynolds Gallery (Richmond, VA); the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT) and Yale's Whitney Humanities Center (New Haven, CT). Prosek's prowess as an artist is matched by his talent as a wordsmith.

He has written for The New York Times as well as National Geographic Magazine, and won a Peabody Award in 2003 for his documentary about traveling through England in the footsteps of Izaak Walton, the seventeenth-century author of The Compleat Angler. Prosek's most recent book, Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Amazing and Mysterious Fish, was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice.

Prosek's work as both an artist and writer is marked by a critical probing of accepted taxonomies and naming conventions. He is particularly interested in exploring the ways in which language not only serves to organize the world around us, but also to reify extant hierarchies, thus fostering a sense of a "natural" order of things; an order that is, in fact, entirely illusory. The Bellarmine Museum of Art will explore these, and related, questions in James Prosek: Un-Natural History (October 21, 2011-December 21, 2011). Highlights of this dynamic exhibition, which provides a unique forum for cross-curricular initiatives at Fairfield University, include Prosek's captivating watercolors that illustrate these and other novel classificatory schemae as well as the artist's whimsical hybrid creatures, including Cockatool and Parrotfishe.