With a keen sense of humor, Aspen Mays explores the relationship between scientific investigation and the photographic medium to question what knowledge can be gained through systems of cataloguing, classification, and documentation.
For her 12 × 12 exhibition Mays produces a site-specific photographic installation titled Every leaf on a tree. The installation consists of two recent bodies of work: Every leaf, which documents every leaf on a tree outside of the artist’s studio and consists of over 900 individual color photographs; and Every book, a series of photographs that document every book about Albert Einstein available through the Illinois Collegiate Inter-Library Loan service. These were then organized by Mays according to the color spectrum to create a series of individual “rainbows”—referencing Einstein’s theories about light and gravity. With these works, Mays asks how the systematic presentation of individual parts affects our understanding of the whole.