John Frederick Walker

Why Are Elephant’s Tusks So Valuable?

Posted in elephant and ivory news by JFW on September 12, 2012

Rebecca J. Rosen, an associate editor of The Atlantic, has posted a thoughtful, analytic piece on elephant poaching that goes beyond outrage to ask the key question:  what’s behind the desire for ivory?

She concludes:

“The power of the idea of ivory is immense, and shows no signs of waning…perhaps the only hope is that the price will go up and up, through greater regulation and greater monitoring, putting ivory once again out of reach for even the middle class. The irony of this is…make ivory even rarer, even more reserved for only the very few, and esteem for it will only rise.”

JFW at Eastern Connecticut State University

Posted in art news by JFW on September 2, 2012

I’ve just installed my exhibition “John Frederick Walker: The Altered Book,” at Eastern Connecticut State University’s J. Eugene Smith Library, and will be giving a lecture and studio workshop there on September 10th.  The exhibition is on view through September 30th.

Artist & Author John Frederick Walker to Visit Eastern – September 10, 2012
Locked Down Lepidopteran (2011). The insect order Lepidoptera includes butterflies and moths, whose mounted forms are often evoked in the artist’s work.  Walker’s frequent use of bolts to lock down pages, rendering their contents inaccessible, references loss of information.
Eastern Connecticut State University
J. Eugene Smith Library
83 Windham Street
Willimantic, CT  06226

Hirola: Can a Muslim community point the way to saving Africa’s wildlife?

Posted in conservation news by JFW on March 29, 2012

Last year I was able to go to a drought-stricken corner of Kenya near the Somalia border to have first-hand experience of a community-based conservation project that does more than involve local people—it puts them in charge.

The piece I wrote—”Where the Antelopes Play: Can a Muslim community point the way to saving Africa’s wildlife?”—is centered on a Somali tribe’s daring plan to set aside a large part of their pasture lands to conserve the last few hundred hirola antelopes remaining in the wild.

It’s just been published on  Click here.

A Certain Curve of Horn reissued in revised and updated e-book edition

Posted in giant sable news by JFW on August 2, 2011

A revised and updated e-book edition of A Certain Curve of Horn: The Hundred-Year Quest for the Giant Sable Antelope of Angola issued by Grove Press is now available:

“In A Certain Curve of Horn, John Frederick Walker tells the story of one of the most revered and endangered of the regal beasts of Africa: the giant sable antelope of Angola, a majestic, coal-black quadruped with breathtaking curved horns over five feet long.

As he follows the trail of this mysterious animal, Walker interweaves the stories of the adventurers, scientists, and warriors who have come under the thrall of the beast, and how their actions would would shape the fate of the giant sable antelope and the history of the war-torn nation that is its only home.

First published in 2002, Walker’s account of his quest for Angola’s legendary animal was called ‘riveting,’ ‘fascinating,’ and ‘compelling’ by reviewers, who compared it to Peter Matthiessen’s classic, The Snow Leopard. 

Walker joined the first post-war expedition that found evidence that the iconic creature had survived the country’s horrific 27-year-long civil war, but years passed before it could be photographed—and discovered to be on the brink of extinction. Now Walker brings the story full circle, taking the reader on a last-chance expedition to find Africa’s most magnificent antelope and the heart-pounding conservation triumph of its rescue.” 

A Certain Curve of Horn (Revised & Updated E-book Edition) is available for purchase at AmazonB&N, Apple, and Kobo.

JFW in Center for Books Arts Exhibition July 6 – September 10

Posted in art news by JFW on June 20, 2011
Sudden Emergence of the Southern Hemisphere 
Mixed media over altered book
 14.25″ x 22″ x 4.5″

I’m one of the artists whose work (shown above) is included in “Multiple, Limited, Unique: Selections from the Permanent Collection of the Center for Book Arts” in New York.  The exhibition was organized by Alexander Campos, Executive Director, Jen Larson, Collections Specialist, and the Collections Committee.

“For the past two years, the Center for Book Arts has been involved in a Collections Initiative, which involves the in-depth cataloguing and preservation of our extensive collection of artist books, prints, catalogues, and ephemera. This exhibition marks the culmination of the three-year Collections Initiative. The exhibition will offer an overview of the history and development of book arts in the 20th century, and examine the role of the institution in both nurturing and promoting innovative artists and preserving traditional artistic practices.”

A catalog with essays by Johanna Drucker, Erin Riley-Lopez, Amanda Stevenson and Tony White will be published in conjunction with the show, which is on view July 6  – September 10, 2011 at 28 West 27th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY  and travels to Atlanta, Minneapolis, Houston, San Francisco and other venues.

JFW at Ober Gallery May 7-June 5

Posted in art news by JFW on April 17, 2011

The Ober Gallery in Kent, Connecticut will exhibit my mixed-media “Bookworks” from May 7 to June 5, 2011.  It’s my first solo exhibit in five years.

Elephant Folio, 2011. Mixed media

The works on exhibit all derive from actual books, or book fragments, radically altered. “In each case,” Kathryn Boughton wrote in her 2006  Litchfield County Times profile, “what remains becomes an armature for Mr. Walker’s drawing, a process that transforms these objects into original and evocative forms.”

JFW at the Beardsley Zoo

Posted in giant sable news by JFW on April 7, 2011

I’ll be lecturing on current giant sable antelope conservation efforts at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 from 7 to 9 pm.  (Click here for directions):

African Adventures – The Return of the Giant Sable Antelope

John Frederick Walker shares his search for Angola’s legendary giant sable antelope. Hear about the struggles and successes of bringing this beautiful animal back from the brink of extinction. There is a $5 suggested donation. Refreshments will be served. This lecture, taking place in the Hanson Exploration Station, is part of the Evening Lecture Series, sponsored by Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo Volunteer Association.”

JFW Giant Sable antelope lecture at the Explorers Club

Posted in giant sable news by JFW on January 1, 2011

On January 10, 2011, I’ll be giving a presentation at the Explorers Club on the dramatic rescue of the critically endangered giant sable antelope of Angola.  I’ll be showing photographs I took from the expedition that succeeded in pulling this legendary creature back from the brink of oblivion—a conservation triumph.

Time:  6:00 pm

Place:  The Explorers Club, 46 East 70th Street, New York NY

The event is open to the public.  Full details here.

A New Reference Database to Identify Origin of Elephant Ivory: Implications for Ivory Trading

Posted in elephant and ivory news, ivory news by JFW on November 29, 2010

ScienceDaily reports that scientists at at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz are working on an innovative reference database to allow the identification of the origin of elephant ivory.  The research sounds encouraging—it could be a useful tool in the fight against illegal trade in ivory.

But the report also suggests how more precise ivory identification in the future might also make a limited, regulated and workable ivory trade possible.  Here’s the key passage in the section “Trade as necessity—the necessity of trade”:

“…the countries of the southern part of Africa in particular are increasingly arguing that they should be allowed to trade freely in ivory from the stocks they already hold so that they can raise the finances they urgently need for nature conservancy measures. Unfortunately, this method of generating income would not be without its problems: If free trade is permitted, it would become increasingly difficult to differentiate between legal and illegal ivory at the point of sale and the legalized trade could be used as a cover for ivory smuggling and poaching. Isotope maps provide an effective way of resolving this dilemma.”

From: “Reference database to identify origin of elephant ivory.” ScienceDaily 26 November 2010. 29 November 2010 < /releases/2010/11/101126094538.htm>

Angola’s Giant Sable Makes a Triumphant Comeback

Posted in giant sable news by JFW on September 24, 2010

The latest issue of SWARA, the quarterly journal of the East African Wild Life Society, includes my latest piece on the rescue of the giant sable antelope, the national animal of Angola.  You can read the article here: GiantSable.Swara.