Recently I was introduced to a guide book for identifying wildflowers in New England and I was surprised at how readily I took to investigating the plants around me. Plants I had seen as nondescript weeds growing in sidewalk cracks and vacant city lots started to stand apart as individuals. I found many were edible, and some had medicinal properties. Bittersweet nightshade, evening primrose, lamb’s quarters, fleabane, plantain, chicory, quickweed, knotweed, pokeweed, vetch, dock, and sweet hop clover; all of these had lived around me unnoticed, now each came forward with a name and a story.

This period of discovery led me to take a course in botany and there, looking at plant specimens under a microscope, I found my inspiration for this body of work. What was even more unexpected was learning that I was also in the midst of overcoming a surprising but common condition known as plant blindness. This can best be described as seeing the plants in your surroundings as homogeneous background greenery while remaining oblivious to the uniqueness of the many different species that are present. One likely explanation for this behavior is that evolution has guided us to focus our attention toward the movements of animals that may pose a physical threat. And as we no longer forage for food on a daily basis, there is little need for us to recognize plants with nutritional or medicinal values in our surroundings. Overcoming plant blindness has been as much a revelation for me as exploring the hidden detail of these tiny botanical subjects with my camera and microscope; both have helped me see the natural world differently.

This project is not meant to be a comprehensive survey but an ongoing exploration of natural design similar to Ernst Haeckel’s exemplary Art Forms in Nature. As a photographer my primary objective has been to find and reveal elements of nature that are at once overlooked and close at hand, reinforcing the relevance of nature to our lives. While my intention has not been to focus exclusively on botanical subjects, I find myself continually surprised how the world of plants has inspired my art. I consider this new project to be a natural evolution of my work; it takes me just beyond my visual boundaries to a place that is unknown, yet still somehow, familiar.


Read About Making Microbotanicals

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