Thursday, May 17, 2007

LA Botanical Exhibition

Sustainable/Edible and Incredible LA: LA Botanical Exhibition

May 18th - June 23rd, 2007
Reception: Friday May 18th 2007 from 7-10pm

Gallery 727, 727 S. Spring Street, LA CA. 90014

Growing through sidewalk cracks, below your feet or in blighted vacant lots and along curbsides are the ubiquitous scrubby weeds that we take for granted as part of the Southern California landscape. However, many of these weeds are edible, medicinal and have cultural importance.

As a child growing up in Boyle Heights my grandmother took me on neighborhood walks. She cut leaves and flowers from the weeds we found along the way. These cuttings were used for teas, soups, and other purposes. My grandmother’s knowledge of LA urban flora amazed me.

Many of these non-native, evasive plants grow wild in LA’s landscape because of our temperate climate. Different ethnic groups who settled in the fertile LA Basin planted these plants. These plants, some which grow wild, tell us about people’s origins and their methods of survival.

Nowhere else in Los Angeles’ urban landscape are plants and space so illuminated and celebrated than in the front yard. Throughout history LA immigrants have grown their dreams and left their marks in their front yards. From the Japanese American planting bonsai to Latinos planting cactus, these plants illustrate culturally ethnic identity the urban landscape.

Landscape is just as important as LA’s vernacular architecture. However, in many cases little value is placed on preserving or understanding our landscape. LA Botanical, a project by Joyce Campbell, is an attempt to document each plant that grows in Los Angeles for which there is a use - be it food, medicine, weapon, abortive, analgesic, fuel, stimulant, building material, deadly toxin or mind altering entheogen.

Joyce documents the plants as wet-plate Ambrotypes, an anachronistic photographic form popular in the 1850's-1890s, the period during in which Los Angeles grew from a dusty town of 1400 inhabitants into a city.

LA Botanical operates simultaneously as map, inventory, and survival guide to the city of Los Angeles. It’s potential reveal who lives here, their origin, their values, how they eat, worship, heal, harm, travel, clothe them selves, seek insight or achieve oblivion. It also serves as a tool or guide - enabling its audience to see Los Angeles, not as a desiccated industrial wasteland into which resources must flow, but as a field of abundant life that might be harvested to satisfy our needs.

Joyce Campbell is an interdisciplinary artist working in photography, sculpture, film and video installation. She is a visiting lecturer at Scripps College and Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California.

In October of 2006, Joyce traveled to the Ross Sea region of Antarctica for two weeks sponsored by Creative New Zealand and Antarctica New Zealand. While in Antarctica she shot large format negatives and Daguerreotypes, an archaic and exquisite form of photography that predates Antarctic exploration.

No comments: