About

Benjamin Swett is a writer and photographer whose books experimenting with photographs and text include Route 22 and New York City of Trees (which won the 2013 New York City Book Award for Photography). He is the author and photographer of guidebooks to the Hudson Valley and to New York City’s Great Trees, and collaborated with the singer/songwriter Heather Woods Broderick to produce the collaborative book/CD of photographs and song Home Winds. His recent essays have appeared in Salmagundi, Orion, Prism International, and Fiction magazines; two were chosen as notable essays in Best American Essays 2020 and 2021. He has received grants and fellowships from The International Grenfell Association, Furthermore, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference and has been featured in articles in The New York Times and The New Yorker and on radio programs and podcasts such as NPR’s All Things Considered and Person, Place, Thing. A writer and photographer for the New York City Parks Department for thirteen years, Swett founded the Parks in Print program, which produced books, brochures, maps, and guides for New York City’s underserved parks. He currently teaches photography at Wave Hill in the Bronx and writing at City College in Manhattan; his photographs are in private, corporate, and public collections including the Museum of the City of New York.

BOOKS:

New York City of Trees (New York: Quantuck Lane Press, 2013; reissued as Trees of New York City by Countryman Press in 2017))

The Hudson Valley: A Cultural Guide (New York: Quantuck Lane Press, 2009)

Route 22 (New York, Quantuck Lane Press, 2007)

Great Trees of New York City: A Guide (New York: New York Tree Trust, 2000

SOLO EXHIBITS:

BOOKS (contributor):

SELECTED GROUP SHOWS:

  • Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY, “Hudson Athens Light,” 3/23-6/9, 2019
  • French Shore Interpr. Cntr, Conche, NL, “Grandois/St. Julien’s 1977-2015,” Aug ’16-Jan ’17
  • Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY, “Art Meets Art,” June-August, 2013
  • CAS Arts Center, Livingston Manor, NY, “21 : A Life in Photographs,” Sept-Oct 2011
  • Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY, “Warren Street,” June-August, 2011
  • Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY, “Local Self-Portraits,” June-August, 2010
  • G.A.S. Visual Arts, Poughkeepsie, NY, “Bridges and the Span of Time,” Sep-Oct 2009
  • Bronx River Art Center, Bronx, NY, “Surprisingly Natural,” Sep-Oct, 2008
  • Catskill Mountain Foundation Gallery, Hunter, NY, “In Full Bloom,” May-June, 2008
  • Joie de Livres, Salisbury, CT, “Spring Awakening,” May-June, 2008
  • Outsider’s Studio, Livingston Manor, NY, Sep. 1-29, 2007 “Through the Optic Nerve”
  • Abrons Arts Center NYC, “Trees of Knowing,” October-December, 2006
  • Michael Ingbar Gallery NYC, “It’s About Real Estate,” May 2006-Jan. 2007
  • Mt. Sinai-Irving J. Selikoff Center NYC, “Nature in New York,” 2003-2007
  • Arsenal Gallery NYC, “Queens Jewels: A History of Queens Parks,” June-Sep 2002
  • Arsenal Gallery NYC, “Waterways, New York and Scotland,” Sep-Oct 2001
  • Michael Ingbar Gallery NYC, “The New York Skyline,” July-November, 2001
  • Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, NY, “Art at Steepletop,” July 2001
  • Arsenal Gallery NYC, “Greener Pastures: Bronx Parks,” June-July, 2001
  • Scott Pfaffman Gallery NYC, “For the Trees,” May-July, 2000

SOME ESSAYS and ARTICLES:

  • My Father’s Green Album,” Salmagundi Magazine, No. 210-211, Spring-Summer 2021
  • What I wanted to tell you about the wind,” Orion, Spring 2021.
  • VR,” Prism International, Issue Number 58.3, Spring 2020 (“Sprawl”).Notable Essay, Best American Essays 2021.
  • The Picture Not Taken,” Fiction Magazine Issue Number 64, September 2019. Notable Essay, Best American Essays 2020.
  • 30/30, an exhibition catalogue, Planthouse Books, October 2019
  • “The Ancients: Lake George’s Ancient Trees,” Adirondack Life (May/June 2014), with Neil Pederson.
  • “Trees of New York,” Cabinet (Winter 2012/13, Issue 48).

AWARDS, GRANTS, RESIDENCIES:

  • International Grenfell Association 2015 grant for “Creating the Grandois Archive.”
  • 2013 New York City Book Award for Photography for New York City of Trees
  • Furthermore research and publication grants for:
    New York City of Trees (2010, 2012)
    The Hudson Valley: A Cultural Guide (2008)
    Route 22 (2005, 2006)
  • Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, N.Y. One-Month Residency. (Aug 1999)
  • Breadloaf Writer’s Conference, Middlebury, VT “Working Scholar” (August 1989)

SELECTED FREELANCE CLIENTS:

Adirondack Life Magazine, Alliance for the ArtsArchaeological Excavation of Aphrodisias, Art Omi, Arthur Ross Foundation, Bridge Street Development CorporationBroadway Mall AssociationThe Brearley SchoolCentral Park ConservancyChristodora, Inc.City of New York/Parks & Recreation, City Parks FoundationEric Cohler DesignFantastic Man, GreenThumbHighbridge Community Development Corporation, Historic House TrustZev KatzMadison Square Park ConservancyMorningside Area Alliance, National Tree TrustNational Park ServiceNew York Community Trust, New York Gastroenterological Associates, New Yorkers for ParksNew York Restoration Project, New York Times Book Review, New York Times, Notion Archaeological Survey, Park Avenue Christian Church Day SchoolPhipps Houses, Inc., Times Square Alliance, Wave HillWoodlawn Cemetery, private clients.

EMPLOYMENT

  • City College of New York, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English, 2019-present
  • Wave Hill, Bronx, NY, Photography Instructor, 2008-present
  • Freelance Writing and Photography, 2001-present
  • City of New York/Parks & Recreation, writer and photographer, 1988-2001
  • Freelance Writing and Photography, 1985-1988
  • The Patent Trader Newspaper, Mount Kisco, NY, reporter, 1984-1985

EDUCATION:

  • City College of New York, MFA, Creative Writing, 2019
  • Harvard College, BA Magna Cum Laude 1982, English & American Literature.