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University of North Texas Art Professor Earns Guggenheim Fellowship

Dornith Doherty, professor of photography in the UNT College of Visual Arts and Design, stands outside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, where she continued her Archiving Eden project. Doherty was named a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow.

Dornith Doherty, professor of photography in the UNT College of Visual Arts and Design

Dornith Doherty, professor of photography in the University of North Texas College of Visual Arts and Design, has been awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation — making her one of 181 scholars, artists and scientists to receive a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in the 88th annual competition.

The fellows — representing the United States and Canada — were chosen from a field of about 3,000 applicants. Doherty plans to use the fellowship to complete her Archiving Eden project — in which she uses X-ray machines at international seed banks to photograph seeds and cloned plants. She then incorporates the X-ray images into digital collages.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have received the fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation,” she said. “To be counted among the fellows of this institution is a profound honor.”

Doherty began Archiving Eden in 2008, inspired by the construction of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault — dubbed the “doomsday vault” — to secure the world’s seed collections from natural disaster or catastrophe. She visited the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colo., and the Millennium Seed Bank in Sussex, England, where she used the on-site X-ray machines to photograph seeds and plants. In 2010, she was one of only a few people allowed to visit the remote Svalbard vault, where she took documentary-style photographs. With the Guggenheim Fellowship, she plans to expand her project by photographing important national seed banks in Australia, Brazil and Russia.

“The dual nature of Archiving Eden, which includes view camera and X-ray photographs made concurrently, serves to illuminate the complexity of the issues surrounding the role of science, technology and human agency in relation to gene banking,” Doherty said.

“In this era of climate change and declining biodiversity, seed banks play a vital role in ensuring the survival of genetic diversity in wild and agricultural species,” she said. “Archiving Eden is dedicated to bringing attention to this important and timely issue.”

Doherty, who joined the UNT faculty in 1996, was named one of the first faculty fellows of UNT’s Institute for the Advancement of the Arts in the 2009-2010 academic year.

“It is such a pleasure to have Professor Doherty on the faculty,” said Dr. Robert Milnes, dean of the UNT College of Visual Arts and Design. “We are all very proud of her and her work. She is a constant innovator and dedicated member of the faculty and university community.”

About Dornith Doherty

Doherty’s work is shown in exhibitions internationally, including Earth Now, American Photographers and the Environment, New Mexico Museum of Art; Confined, Captive and Keeper in Contemporary Life, the Bluecoat, Liverpool, England; Indiana State Museum; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Atlánticas Colectivas, Tenerife, Spain; the Festival de la Luz Photography Biennial in Buenos Aires, Argentina; FotoFest, Houston; Flora and Fauna, Museum of Fine Arts Houston; and the Tucson Museum of Art, among others.

Her work is in numerous permanent collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts in Milwaukee, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Yale University Library, the Museet Fotokunst in Odense, Denmark, Goldman-Sachs in New York, Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans, Sprint Corporation in Kansas City, Federal Reserve Bank in Houston and the Centro de Fotografía, Isla de Tenerife in Spain.

She has received grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the Japan Foundation, the United States Department of the Interior, the Indiana Arts Commission and the Society for Contemporary Photography. She was named one of the first faculty fellows of UNT’s Institute for the Advancement of the Arts. Doherty received a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish and French language and literature at Rice University and a master of fine arts degree in photography from Yale University. Her work is represented by McMurtrey Gallery in Houston and Holly Johnson Gallery in Dallas.

Dornith Doherty, professor of photography in the UNT College of Visual Arts and Design, stands outside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, where she continued her Archiving Eden project. Doherty was named a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow.

Dornith Doherty, professor of photography in the UNT College of Visual Arts and Design, stands outside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, where she continued her Archiving Eden project. Doherty was named a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow.

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