Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

portfolio box
  • Mark Dion
    born 1961
    born: New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States
  • portfolio box, 2007–2011
  • Herbarium
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 45.8 x 33.5 x 1 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 18 1/16 x 13 3/16 x 3/8 in
  • Museum purchase: Lucy Shaw Schultz Fund
  • Not on display
  • 2017.0047
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World", 27-Mar-2018
Mark Dion’s work draws heavily from the historical traditions of naturalists to address the ecological challenges facing us today. His approaches often involve working with portable collecting and laboratory gear in constructed situations that allow his audiences to stumble upon the contradictions, ironies, and insights that stem from human involvement with the natural world and the environment.

Dion’s Herbarium is a reimagining of Dr. Henry E. Perrine’s early 19th-century attempts to cultivate, propagate, and capitalize on tropical species from the Florida Keys. Perrine’s home and collections were incinerated, and he was killed in an attack during the Seminole Wars (1817–1858). To emulate Perrine’s lost collections, Dion collected, dried, and photographed seaweed samples, and made stamps and labels to recreate the aesthetic of 19th-century herbarium sheets. Dion’s work gives us a way to consider the relationships between a naturalist’s collection and study of botanical specimens and the connections of these activities to colonialism, imperialism, and the exploitation of natural resources.