Specimen Poetry

These images document my work in the Insects Collection of the Field Museum of Natural History (from 2011 through 2015) and how I grew to see specimen labels as a form of storytelling - sparse, informative, and strangely beautiful.

During this period I helped accession several donated collections and as I organized and transcribed, the person behind these objects inevitably began to take shape. The handwriting, collection methods, and care - even word choice; hinted at and slowly revealed the collector. Much in the way that art often says more about the artist than its subject, these specimens revealed some personal.

The labels were suddenly intimate - each neo-tropical butterfly in glassine paper a snapshot of someone’s life, as much a moment of time being pinned to the board and spread, as an insect.

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Copyright © Kelsey Keaton 2018.