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Fragile Earth: The Naturalist Impulse in Contemporary Art

By Jennifer Stettler Parsons
with contributions by Jennifer Angus, Mark Dion, Courtney Mattison, James Prosek, and Jane Lubchenco

Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press (2019)
ISBN-13: 978-1-8808973-1-7
Product Size: 9 x 10 3/4 inches
Distributed by Wesleyan University Press

Just as artists of the 19th and 20th centuries participated in forging an American natural history as explorers, cataloguers, collectors, and early environmentalists, contemporary artists continue to incorporate and comment on the natural world in their art. Motivated by the inexorable rise of urban-industrial development and the subsequent deterioration of our planet, artists confront the vulnerability of our environment and the effects of global climate change to illustrate the continued relevance of ecology and nature conservation to contemporary artistic practice. In Fragile Earth: The Naturalist Impulse in Contemporary Art, leading artists Jennifer Angus, Mark Dion, Courtney Mattison, and James Prosek make natural elements their medium conceptually and literally, from prints created with eel bodies, to ceramic sculpture mimicking coral bleaching, cabinets filled with colorful plastic collected from oceans and rivers, and walls covered with shockingly beautiful, preserved insects. Bringing an artistic perspective to natural science, these essays and written conversations
showcase the persuasive role artists can play in advocating for the preservation of our earth.