Jessica Rath is not obsessed with apples. You wouldn’t think this is the case because her recent body of work is a group of apple sculptures and portraits of apple trees. They aren’t about the apples, though: they’re about plant genetics. Rath is a California based artist who has been studying and researching the genetics of plants for three years. The result is Take Me To The Apple Breeder.
The body of work all started with visits Rath took to Cornell’s Plant Genetics Resource Unit and the USDA. This is a place where apple breeds are mixed and rearranged and cloned so that they can be mass produced. In her research and study, she realized that most apples are mutations and monsters, the result of science experiments. She responded to this by making inedible apples in porcelain. They’re glassy and beautiful and good enough to eat–but they can’t be. They are man made and not natural. These are not the apples your doctors told you to eat daily–but they are as beautiful and well crafted as most apples today are.
Her work in this series are not only these sculptures but portraits of the various new breeds of apple trees that have been made, presented against white backdrops that appear to be containing the hazards they may hold. Her pieces are currently up at PMCA through February 24. On February 3, Rath will be speaking at the museum along with Kristina Newhouse, the museum curator at CSU Long Beach. They’ll be discussing “the human need to beget beauty in art and food and the drive to share it through horticultural cloning and aesthetic mimesis.” Sounds great! You can get more information on her work and the project from her website.