The Art Newspaper: A Meditation on an Island of Lost Souls

In my first story for the Art Newspaper, I interviewed artist Coco Fusco about her work in the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Her video piece meditates on the dead from the COVID-19 pandemic who were interred on Hart Island, New York City’s potter’s field:

It gives the viewer the sensation of floating above the earth, where hundreds of victims of Covid-19 are indistinguishable from those of yellow fever, tuberculosis, Aids and other diseases that have previously swept through the city. If their names were known, they may have been scrawled on their coffins in marker pen, but they are all now hidden and unmarked.

“One of the things that’s in the narration is, ‘The bodies lie together alone,’” Fusco says. “What every individual buried there shares is aloneness.”

Read the full story at the Art Newspaper.

Fine Books Magazine: André Kertész

For my photography column in the spring 2022 issue of Fine Books Magazine, I wrote about the early work of Hungarian-born photographer André Kertész. Before becoming an influential photojournalist, he used postcard prints to capture the bohemian life of Paris. Selections of these works are on view at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta through May 29:

From 1925 to 1928, before the magazine commissions and exhibitions, his main photographic medium was something much humbler: the carte postale, the popular postcard format used for sending messages and selling souvenirs. Without depleting his meager savings, the small-scale format enabled him to experiment, leading to a lyrical yet formal style that would be foundational for his practice.

Read the full story in print in Fine Books Magazine.

NYC Microseasons Project

NYC Microseasons

On Winter Solstice 2021, NYC Microseasons was launched, an ongoing project I started with my friend Erin Chapman. Each week we are sending a newsletter marking the small shifts in the seasons across the five boroughs, reflecting on how both natural and unnatural forces are at work in New York City. The first season—The Solstice Arrives and Shadows Lengthen into the Darkest Days—is online now, along with ways to commemorate its passing. You can subscribe here for future seasons or follow along on Twitter.

The Photographer Who Chronicled the Monumental and Ephemeral Land Art Movement

Land Art Story

For the Winter 2022 issue of Fine Books magazine, I explored the legacy of photographer Gianfranco Gorgoni who captured many of the most significant Land Art works in the United States. The story is timed with a retrospective of his work at the Nevada Museum of Art:

50 years after Smithson completed the Spiral Jetty, Gorgoni’s photographs have helped define a work that is too remote for most to have seen, especially when it was underwater for 30 years. They also chronicled its creation, reminding viewers that although the curve of the Spiral Jetty appears like an ancient glyph, it was the result of trial and error by one of the New York artists in the 1960s and ‘70s who were bold enough to reshape the earth into their visions. Despite the importance of Gorgoni’s photography to Land Art—which perhaps more than any other visual art relies on photography to convey it to viewers—his legacy has not gotten much attention in histories of the movement.

Read the full story in the Winter 2022 print issue of Fine Books.

In Tombstones and Sculptures William Edmondson Allowed His Black Community to Be Seen

For Art & Object, I wrote about the sculptor William Edmondson who used discarded limestone in 1930s Nashville to create tombstones for the final resting places of neighbors, family members, and friends. His practice evolved into a major sculpture career including a solo show at MoMA. The story is timed with his first major museum show in over two decades:

It is significant to consider Edmondson’s legacy in this context of creating outdoor sculpture at a time when Nashville and many other cities are reevaluating who is being monumentalized in statuary. In the limestone that no one else wanted, Edmondson allowed his community to be seen.

Read the full story on Art & Object.

Hulda, the Witch of Sleepy Hollow

Hulda the Witch

For the Hudson Valley – Times Union, I explored the legend of Hulda, a witch said to live near Sleepy Hollow who is referenced in Washington Irving’s famous 1819 tale. I interviewed people who are keeping Hulda’s memory alive, including the recent marking of what’s believed to be her final resting place:

“I see Hulda as a fearless woman who had many talents and skills, who did her best to help others,” said Carla L. Hall, a practicing witch based in Ossining who researches folk magic. “So many historical narratives of marginalized people are never acknowledged, and Hulda’s is one of them.”

Read the story on the Hudson Valley – Times Union.

Before Audubon, there was Mark Catesby

Mark Catesby

For the Autumn 2021 issue of Fine Books magazine, I contributed a feature on Mark Catesby who visualized the vibrancy of North American nature a century before John James Audubon. I talked to historians, authors, and curators who have investigated his work and its impact:

With the assistance of Indigenous guides, he journeyed through environments ranging from dense maritime oak forests and valleys where herds of bison roamed, to the reefs of the West Indies, producing the first major illustrated survey of southeastern North American nature: the two-volume Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands published in 11 parts between 1729 and 1747. It would ultimately include 220 illustrations that pair birds and other animals with their ecologically significant plants, something few naturalists had done before. His lively watercolors and the subsequent bookplates portrayed in vivid color and animated detail how species interact with the natural world, such as a crested heron bending its long neck to catch a lizard or a brown thrasher perched on a chokecherry tree, delicately taking a ripe berry in its beak.

Find the full story in the print issue of Fine Books.

A&E’s You Need to Know

You Need to Know

I regularly work as a story pitcher and researcher for A&E, specifically its short video content for Biography channel. One of the latest series is “You Need to Know” which highlights significant yet often overlooked figures from history. The animated shorts now online include a feature on Osage dancer Maria Tallchief, America’s first prima ballerina.

Fine Books Magazine Cover Story

The cover of the summer 2021 issue of Fine Books Magazine features my story on Lewis Hine and his photographs of American labor, particularly child labor in the early 1900s. The story is available in print:

Hine spent 16 years traveling throughout the country, to the sardine canneries in Maine where children cut fish with sharp knives, the coal mines in West Virginia where they crawled into tight spaces to light explosives, and the cotton mills in South Carolina where they worked on colossal cotton-spinning machinery. He portrayed the children there with empathy but also objectivity as he wanted to be “double-sure that my photo data was 100% pure—no retouching or fakery of any kind.” That way no one could deny what they were seeing.

Read about the story on Fine Books.

Essay in Wildflowers of New York

I contributed an essay to Andrew Garden’s new book Wildflowers of New York City. It explores over 2,000 wildflowers that flourish around the five boroughs. These wildflowers are often overlooked and I love the way that Garn has captured their beauty with his photographs. The book is available from Cornell University Press and the New York Times feature on it highlighted my writing: “Others came as stowaways, as the writer Allison C. Meier notes in the book’s introduction. In the 19th century, the botanist Addison Brown scoured the heaps of discarded ballast — earth and stones that weighed down ships — by city docks for unfamiliar blossoms, as he noted in an 1880 issue of the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club.”

Here’s the beginning of my essay on “Nature as a Living Map of New York City”:

New York City’s nature is a living map of its history. While pockets of old growth forest endure in places like Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan with its towering tulip trees and red oaks and the 50-acre Thain Family Forest with its 17th-century woodlands protected in the New York Botanic Garden in the Bronx, much of the landscape in the five boroughs has been disrupted and changed over the past centuries. Greenspace was fractured into islands of land like parks, community gardens, and cemeteries. Concrete, glass, and steel now dominate the city.