Alta Asks Live: Josie Iselin

Photographer Josie Iselin joins Alta Asks Live on August 19, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. PDT.

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In her latest book, photographer Josie Iselin transforms everyday seaweed into stunning art. Through her images, historical botanical illustrations, and inspired prose, Iselin opens our eyes to the allure and importance of algae. She joins Alta Asks Live and journalist Jessica Zack for a virtual tour of the curious world of seaweed — no snorkel necessary.

Buy the book: The Curious World of Seaweed

About the book and the author

Marine algae are the supreme eco-engineers of life: they oxygenate the waters, create habitat for countless other organisms, and form the base of a food chain that keeps our planet unique in the universe as we know it. In this beautiful volume, Josie Iselin explores both the artistic and the biological presence of sixteen seaweeds and kelps that live in the thin region where the Pacific Ocean converges with the North American continent—a place of incomparable richness. Each species receives a detailed description of its structure, its ecological importance, and humans’ scientific inquiry into it, told in scientifically illuminating yet deeply reverent and inspired prose. Throughout the writings are historical botanical illustrations and Iselin’s signature, Marimekko-like portraits of each specimen that reveal their vibrant colors—whether rosy, “olivaceous,” or grass-green—and whimsical shapes. Iselin posits that we can learn not only about the seaweeds but also from them: their resilience, their resourcefulness, their poetry and magic.

Josie Iselin is the author of eight books that focus on those forms in nature we find at hand — in particular, at the beach. She holds a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and an MFA from San Francisco State University. For over twenty years Josie has used her flatbed scanner and computer to generate imagery. She is still captivated by the fluidity with which this technique allows her to render and design with three-dimensional objects. Her writing and art focused on seaweeds, kelp, and sea otter put her on the forefront of ocean activism, collaborating with scientists and groups working to preserve the kelp forests of our Pacific Coast. As a fine artist, Josie exhibits large-scale prints at select galleries and museums, and she has designed a line of luxury scarves and shower curtains. She hopes that celebrating the ordinary wonders we find at the beach will bring thoughtfulness and stewardship to this extraordinary place of discovery. Visit her website at www.josieiselin.com.

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