Jimmy Fike was born on a cold December morning in Birmingham, Alabama. He received a BA in Art from Auburn University and earned an MFA in Photography from the Cranbrook Academy of Art under the tutelage of Carl Toth. Jim has taught art at Wake Forest and Ohio Universities and is currently an Art Faculty Member at Estrella Mountain College in Avondale, Arizona. His photographic work endeavors to find creative, contemporary ways to approach landscape by incorporating place, identity, ecology, and mythology. His series on wild edible plants has been exhibited in a number of shows across the county, featured in the L.A. Times, and can be found in the permanent collection of the George Eastman House Museum. When not creating art or teaching Jim enjoys reading, cooking, picking guitar, and hiking with his dog Sallie.
J.W. Fike’s Photographic Survey of the Wild Edible Botanicals of the North American Continent
Within Fike’s system the plant is excavated, arranged in the studio, photographed, then illustrated digitally in such a way as to render the edible parts in color while the remaining parts, less emphatically, read as contact prints. The plants in the resulting images float in an infinitely black expanse, referencing both photograms of botanical specimens used as scientific illustrations and visions from the collective unconscious. He strives to create images that function as conduits in a uniquely charged space connecting art, science and spirituality.
While this type of art may appear atavistic and indeed references historical approaches to understanding and utilizing nature, its redeployment, in this contemporary era, is vitally relevant to environmental issues. These edible plants grow all around us, in yards, alleys, ditches, and empty lots. Each testifies to our symbiotic evolution with all of life, and functions as both poetic metaphor and concrete proof of our intimate tether to the natural world. It is Fike’s hope that this art foments contemplative wonderment by offering viewers both information and insights that if realized kindle a reconnection to the natural world and a mystical counterbalance to scientific objectivism.
“I prefer mounting exhibitions that feature plants found within that same community. My place-based approach to photography signals an interesting shift in configuring the medium’s relation to subject, audience and site. My work actively engages the community by utilizing relevant contextual information, interdisciplinary research, and an elegant if slightly spellbinding aesthetic. These elements all work together to offer knowledge and conjure a glimpse of deeper ecological truths. My layered approach to creation offers multiple entry points and a diverse range of engagement”, says Fike.
He has photographed over one hundred twenty plants in ten different states and plans to continue the survey until he’s created a collection that spans the continental United States. Fike hopes the resulting catalogue will serve as an archive for an uncertain ecological future, reliable guide for foraging, and contain meditative symbols in communion with philosophical, spiritual and ecological truths.
To view more of Jimmy’s work please visit his website.