Mitch Epstein’s New York Arbor | April 29

American Elm, Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn 2012 | Photo: Mitch Epstein

Photographer Mitch Epstein has always been fascinated by “the culture of the built environment,” as he explained to us in this 2012 Urban Omnibus interview. This interest has manifested itself in artistic explorations of such subjects as the physical structures of energy production and consumption; family dynamics and changing communities in his hometown of Holyoke, Massachusetts; the material and social cultures of India and Vietnam; and the tension between private and public demonstrated on the surfaces of New York City. For his most recent project, New York Arbor, Epstein turns his eye to the trees of New York City, challenging the viewer to push beyond the typical focus on the architecture, people, and broader environs of the cityscape. Each photograph focuses on a single tree in New York City, but, taken together, the series underscores the complex relationship between the natural, cultural, and physical components of the urban environment.

This Monday, April 29th, at 7:00pm, Epstein will present photographs from New York Arbor in a lecture presented by the Architectural League, followed by a conversation with Yale University Art Gallery curator Joshua Chuang and Director of Tree Preservation for the City of New York Matthew Wells, moderated by New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman. Read on for more information from the program listing, or check for the latest about the event or to purchase tickets online.

Mitch Epstein: “New York Arbor”
Discussion following with Joshua Chuang and Matthew Wells
Moderated by Michael Kimmelman
Introduced by Wendy Evans Joseph
1.5 AIA and New York State CEUs

Artist Mitch Epstein will present his recent series of photographs of trees made in New York’s five boroughs. The series inverts our usual view of the city: trees do not function as background, but instead dominate the human life and architecture around them. These photographs underscore the importance of trees to urban life and their complex relationship to their human counterparts.

Following the lecture, Michael Kimmelman will lead a discussion that draws from Epstein’s pictures, with a focus on the interface of art, nature, and urbanism. Based on their own work — Chuang, as curator of the Robert Adams exhibition “The Place We Live;” Wells as an urban horticulturist with expertise on trees; and Kimmelman, as an architecture critic who writes not only about buildings, but about their context and their influence on communities — the panel will discuss topics that range from art as cultural comment, to private vs. public trees, to the symbiotic bond between city dwellers and nature.

Mitch Epstein is a New York based artist whose works are in numerous major museum collections, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Tate Modern in London. Winner of the 2011 Prix Pictet for his series American Power, Epstein was also awarded the 2008 Berlin Prize in Arts and Letters by the American Academy in Berlin, and a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship.

Joshua Chuang is Curator of Photographs at Yale University Art Gallery.

Michael Kimmelman is the New York Times architecture critic.

Matthew Wells is Director of Tree Preservation at New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

Time & Place
Monday, April 29, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Rose Auditorium
The Cooper Union
41 Cooper Square

Tickets are free for League members; $10 for non-members. Members may reserve a ticket by e-mailing: Member tickets will be held at the check-in desk; unclaimed tickets will be released fifteen minutes after the start of the program. Non-members may purchase tickets online here.

This program is made possible with support from The Wendy Evans Joseph Fund of the Architectural League.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.