Tarleton Gallery Hosts Archiving Eden Exhibition


STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State University’s Department of Visual Arts and Design will present Dornith Doherty: Archiving Eden at the Clyde H. Wells Gallery of Art from Jan. 12 to Feb. 8.  

Doherty will present a public lecture — Tarleton Fine Arts Theater, 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 — on her work combining art and scientific research. 

For 15 years the Texas-based photographer has photographed the spaces and contents of seed banks around the world. In Archiving Eden she constructed a visual meditation on the planet’s botanical diversity by focusing on the aesthetics of seeds and the places constructed to conserve biodiversity.

Collaborating with renowned biologists and supported by a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship, she began photographing seed vaults to examine their role and preservation efforts in the face of climate change, the extinction of natural species, and decreased agricultural diversity. 

Locations in the series include the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the Agricultural Research Service’s National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (Colorado); the Millennium Seed Bank (England); PlantBank; the Threatened Flora Centre and Kings Park Botanic Gardens (Australia); and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norway).

The archives’ on-site X-ray equipment is routinely used for viability assessments of accessioned seeds. Doherty documents and subsequently collages the seeds and tissue samples stored in these crucial collections. 

The visual power of magnified X-ray images springs from the technology’s ability to record what is invisible to the human eye, she said. “It illuminates my considerations not only of the complex philosophical, anthropological and ecological issues surrounding the role of science and human agency in relation to gene banking, but also of the poetic questions about life and time on a macro and micro scale.”

Doherty was born in Houston and received a BA cum laude from Rice University and an MFA in photography from Yale University. She lives in Southlake and is a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of North Texas. 

In addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship, she has received grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the Japan Foundation, the Indiana Arts Commission and the U.S. Department of the Interior, the University of North Texas and the Houston Center for Photography. 

She has been an artist in residence at the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto/Ontario Science Centre, the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, and Joshua Tree National Park. She received the Honored Educator Award from the Society of Photographic Education South Central in 2012. The Texas Legislature named her 2016 Texas State Artist 2D.

Her work has been featured in exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad at institutions including the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth; the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.; the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Ark.; the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont; the Centro de Fotografía, Tenerife, Spain; the Chapter Art Centre, Cardiff, Wales; the Encuentros Abiertos Photography Biennial in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; the Museum Belvédère, Heerenveen, the Netherlands; the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe; and the Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, Canada.

Doherty’s work has been featured in American Way magazine, Harvard Business Review, Hyperallergic, National Geographic, The New Yorker: Photo Booth, Oxford American Journal, Oxford Literary Journal, Smith Journal Australia, Smithsonian Magazine, Texas Monthly, Tomboy Tarts, Vice, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Wired magazine, among others. She has been invited to present scholarly papers and artist talks at over 80 institutions and conferences worldwide, including a TEDx lecture in 2013.

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