How to Know the Ferns

How to Know the Ferns exhibited at Kai Lin Art, March 21-May 22, 2023

Anderson’s ongoing look at the power of Nature and the nature of power focuses here through the lens of historical research. Art and science meet in two books, “Ferns of Georgia” (Rogers McVaugh & Joseph H. Pyron, 1951), and “How to Know the Ferns” (Frances Theodora Parsons, 1927 ed.). These wonderful collections of botanical line drawings present a close observation of the leafy plants, while imagining them as either soft, lilting, fainting, dainty beings; or as flattened, deterministic vessels of scientific study. Both adhere to Western culture’s tendency to reduce knowledge into categories, and to drain experience of its color.

Anderson aims to return a spirit of energy, wonder, and power to these pages. Experiments with bright inks, acrylics, and oils emphasize the true strangeness of these plant forms. Generative, fractal mark-making threatens to plunge the artist into exponential iterations of labor. Retinal vibrations bring the viewer into the madness. Poured auras imbue a glimpse of nature’s magic. The ferns begin to gain their own agency as mesmerizing, wise, forest weirdies.