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Specimens of the Plague Year

  • 2022

For one year during the covid-19 pandemic lockdown, Robert Schultz made notes and art in a daily practice of reflection and observation. To accompany his wide-ranging entries, he browsed his wife’s gardens, bringing in small, local beauties to photograph. Things blooming and failing in their seasons mark our collective progress through a year of beauty and terror. Specimens of the Plague Year is cloth bound with dust jacket and includes 38 full-color art plates in a hand-friendly trim size of 7 x 7 inches.

From February 2020 to February 2021, Schultz gleaned from the day’s news and from his wife’s gardens, juxtaposing brief meditations with photographs of plant specimens to make a record of losses and beauties. He photographed his specimens by placing them on a scanner, removing its lid, and turning out the lights. In his opening entry he remarks: “I like the gorgeous 17 th C. Dutch still life paintings that seldom fail to include time and decay…. They seem true to me, and timely. The natural world, which of course includes us, the virus, and my specimens, moves continually through growth, decay, death, and rebirth…. [These days] I feel more poignantly my kinship with things marked and scarred, or things seen briefly in spring the tiny five-petaled blossoms on the tendril of broom—all that beauty against a dark black background.”

The edition is limited to 35 copies, signed by the author.