A public garden & cultural center

Benjamin Swett: New York City of Trees

June 17, 2015 - March 27, 2016
Wave Hill House

Pictured above: Copper Beech, 62”. Wave Hill, Riverdale, Bronx. April 23, 2010 (removed 2013) (detail). Archival Pigment Print, 32” x 32”. Courtesy of the artist. 


For many years, photographer Benjamin Swett has captured the trees that make up New York City’s urban forest. His portraits of trees throughout the five boroughs, among them the magnificent specimens in Wave Hill’s collection, describe the persevering role that trees play in the fabric of the city, making connections between trees and the neighborhoods where they grow. For Swett, trees are as much historical artifacts as they are botanical specimens. His photography workshops at Wave Hill, perennial favorites, address both the aesthetic considerations and technical issues facing nature photographers, helping aspiring artists see our grounds in a new way.

Swett has previously shown his work at Wave Hill in a solo exhibition in 2001. He has also had one-person shows at BCB Art, Hudson, NY; Arsenal Gallery in Central Park, New York, NY; Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy, NY, and the Albany International Airport, Albany, NY. His works are in the collections of the Museum of the City of New York, New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, Montefiore Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and other public and private collections. As a writer and photographer, Swett has a particular interest in combining images with text. His books include New York City of Trees (2013), The Hudson Valley: A Cultural Guide (2009), Route 22 (2007), and Great Trees of New York City: A Guide (2000). Swett has received grants and fellowships from Furthermore, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and was a writer and photographer for the New York City Parks Department for 13 years before leaving in 2001 to pursue photography full-time.

Titles of the works include the tree’s common name, its diameter, its location and the date that the photograph was taken. All works are archival pigment prints and courtesy of the artist.

Read a release about the show here. and  a review in The New York Times here.

Pictured above: Post Oak, 20”. Hunter Island, Pelham Bay Park, Bronx. March 7, 2012. Archival Pigment Print. Courtesy of the artist.

Pictured above: American Elm 39.5”. Harlem River Drive, Manhattan. October 10, 2003. Archival Pigment Print, 44” x 44”. Courtesy of the artist.

Pictured above: Copper Beech, 62”. Wave Hill, Riverdale, Bronx. April 23, 2010 (removed 2013). Archival Pigment Print, 32” x 32”. Courtesy of the artist. 

Support for the Visual Arts Program is provided by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.