Specimens of the Plague Year
Robert Schultz’s art media include chlorophyll prints, scanned compositions, and handmade artist’s books that combine letterpress text and leafprints.
He has spoken by invitation at the National Gallery of Art, Oxford University, at colleges and universities across the U.S., and at book festivals and other venues. For over a decade he has collaborated with the photographer Binh Danh, producing two art exhibitions and publishing two books, most recently War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Memorials. War Memoranda was the subject of illustrated features on the photography sites, Lenscratch and LensCulture. Schultz’s art has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries and has been recognized with juror’s awards for individual works and portfolios. His artwork is held by the Library of Congress, the University of Virginia special collections library, and by private collectors in the U.S. and abroad. He is represented by Deborah McLeod’s Chroma Projects, Charlottesville, Virginia.
For most of my professional life I have been chiefly a writer. Over the past ten years, however, I have returned to an early devotion to art. I have been doing traditional photography, cameraless photography (chlorophyll prints, scanography), letterpress printing, and am combining media in hand-made artist’s books. My collaboration with Binh Danh, who taught me his chlorophyll print process, has been an influence. And my writing and reading life has influenced my art decisively, especially my deep involvement with poet Walt Whitman and the American Transcendentalists for whom knowledge starts in the contemplation of nature. My chlorophyll prints, and especially the portraits, enact Whitman’s central trope of leaves: death falls into the ground and life rises, renewed, from it. And my specimen scans seek to acknowledge both beauty and terror, capturing ephemeral beauty against a deep black background.