Award-winning artist, naturalist, and writer James Prosek (b. 1975, B.A. 1997) brings his love of the natural world and his lifelong fascination with the naming and classification of nature to the Yale University Art Gallery in James Prosek: Art, Artifact, Artifice.
The exhibition brings together objects from the collections of the Gallery, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, and the Yale Center for British Art. It places Prosek’s work in dialogue with a wide range of both man-made objects and those produced by billions of years of evolution, or what naturalist Charles Darwin described as “endless forms most beautiful.”
By challenging traditional separations of museum collections into “art” and “artifact,” or “natural” and “man-made,” the artist asks us to explore to what extent these distinctions matter. Is it helpful for us to draw such boundaries? Or do they limit what we are able to see, substituting categories and classifications for experience? “What would happen,” Prosek said, “if we stop putting things into neat categories and simply marvel at the wondrous and complex world of which we are a part?”