Intrigued by author Michael Pollan’s description in The Botany of Desire, of rare apple diversity being collected, curated, and saved under the direction of Dr. Philip Forsline in Geneva, New York at the USDA/Cornell Plant Genetics Resources Unit (PGRU), Los Angles based artist Jessica Rath used kickstarter to fund a research trip.
In 2009, guided by William Srmack, Rath touched, tasted, collected, and photographed rare and unusual apples, returning in 2010 to photograph the architecture of the apple trees being bred by Dr. Susan K. Brown at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. The resulting project, Take me to the apple breeder, was recently on view at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
Read Jessica Rath’s 2012 Take me to the apple breeder museum essay.
From the essay:“Agriculture and food production have always been as much cultural as scientific practices, with human preferences and desires influencing biological outcomes. In focusing our gaze on the curating of the idealized beauty of apples plucked from natural selection and the extreme diversity found in breeding left to nature, take me to the apple breeder examines our sublime but fraught relationship with nature.”
Artist Jessica Rath’s talk: Take me to the apple breeder, at TEDxYouth:ValVerde.
Project and Artist Information: Artist’s website description of Take me to the apple breeder includes 10 images of slip cast porcelain apple sculptures and photographic tree portraits.
Interview and Images: Of Sisters and Clones: An Interview with Jessica Rath by Nicola Twilley and Geoff Manaugh at the always fascinating Edible Geography. Beautiful images and an interesting examination of the similarities between making porcelain sculptural apples and apple breeding – the acts of selecting and shaping, and the process of creating many to ultimately select only one, or in the case of the porcelain apples, two best specimens.