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Art Meets Science in New Perlman Teaching Museum Exhibit

October 4, 2013

A new exhibit in the Perlman Teaching Museum in the Weitz Center for Creativity takes a look at the iconic "all-American" fruit, the apple. Melding art and science, artist Jessica Rath's "Take Me To The Apple Breeder" explores the seemingly simple apple—genus malus—highlighting the extraordinarily diverse possibilities within a single species of plant. Through ceramic sculptures and photographic portraits of new hybrid trees, Rath's exhibit highlights human intervention in the natural world, inviting mediation on notions of beauty within cultivated, domestic and wild landscapes.

The exhibit, on display through November 20, features a series of slip-cast porcelain sculptures based on the collection of rare and endangered apples at Cornell University's USDA-ARS Plant Genetics Resource Unit (PGRU). Scientist Philip Forsline collected apples from all over the world to maintain a living bank for the future of apples. Edible apples are not grown from seeds, but must be grafted from existing trees. Every variety must be kept alive to survive and offer its fruit to successive human generations.

In 2009, after reading Michael Pollan's book The Botany of Desire describing a "Noah's Ark of apples," Rath was inspired to visit the PGRU, seeking to understand the science of apple genetics. PGRU's vast living collection of both natural and engineered apple varieties became the starting point for her own investigation, resulting in her sculptural and photographic exhibit "Take Me To The Breeder."

"Jessica Rath: Take Me To The Apple Breeder" in the Braucher Gallery, Perlman Teaching Museum, complements "Laura Cooper: Opunita" in the Kaemmer Family Gallery. Together the two artist presentations comprise "Single Species Translations, artistic meditations on apple and cactus species."   

Based in Los Angeles, Rath has been exhibiting her sculptures and installations for over 18 years in Los Angeles, most recently as solo projects at Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles and Torrance Art Museum, Torrance. Her work has also been included in group shows at Pepperdine University, Malibu; Mak Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles; and Kellogg Gallery, California State Polytechnique University, Pomona. Rath, who graduated with an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 1996, has received a Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority grant, a Metrolab Commission Grant, the Bridge Residency Award from Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA and two Durfee Foundation grants. Her work is in the collections of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles. More information about Rath can be found at

Jessica Rath’s visit is co-sponsored by the Christopher U. Light Lectureship in the Arts. For more information, including disability accommodations, contact Carleton College Curator Laurel Bradley at (507) 222-4342. “Take Me To The Apple Breeder” and "Laura Cooper: Opunita" are currently on display in the Weitz Center for Creativity’s Perlman Teaching Museum. Directions and museum hours can be found at