“Alexander’s Nocturne” is a fun representation of a common theme in Victorian natural history writings--the Old World's obsession with the wildness and danger of New World nature. The Victorian naturalist Alexander Wilson talks about camping alone in the Indiana woods and being frightened awake by the terrifying scream of a juvenile Great Horned Owl. William Bartram has a similar experience listening to the guttural growls of American Crocodiles. During my artist residency at the Lloyd Library and Museum, I noted the night noises mentioned in the old naturalist writings I researched. I’ve taken those noises and compiled them into a pillow. As you lie down on it, you hear a frightening, phantasmic rendition of American nature that would satisfy the Old World hunger for a wild America. I've even imagined the pillow as a comical gift a European parent may bring home to their child obsessed with New World nature the way children today are obsessed with dinosaurs. Or maybe it's just a way to put ourselves in the shoes of early naturalists, who often wandered the woods alone for weeks at a time.
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