A native Californian, Ansel Adams (1902-1984) first visited the Yosemite Valley at age fourteen and returned almost every year thereafter. He believed that wilderness areas were vital to human welfare and spent much of his life advocating for the preservation of some of the country’s special ecosystems and geographic landmarks. Despite his active use of his photographs to support such work, he is quoted as saying that he never purposely made photographs that related directly to environmental issues.
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- Writer and aural historian Jack Loeffler remembers visiting Adams’s studio.
- Read the article “Ansel Adams: The Role of the Artist in the Environmental Movement,” written by Robert Turnage, in 1980, for the Wilderness Society’s The Living Wilderness at this link: http://www.anseladams.com/Articles.asp?ID=172
- Adams was planning to become a concert pianist before changing course and dedicating himself to photography. He wrote that seeing the negatives of photographer Paul Strand, when both of them were visiting Taos, New Mexico, was the deciding factor. He later talked about photography in musical terms, equating the photographic negative with a musical score and the photographic print with a performance. In the spring of 2009, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck and his son Chris composed an orchestral work inspired by Adams’s photographs, titled “Ansel Adams: America.” You can hear them talk about the project on the National Public Radio Music website: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102656153
- With Adams’s permission, one of his pictures appeared on a coffee can. The Hills Brothers Coffee Company of San Francisco used Winter Morning, Yosemite Valley, California on their three-pound coffee can: http://swanngalleriesinc.blogspot.com/2010/05/collecting-ansel-adams.html
- After Adams died, in 1984, a mountain and a wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada were named after him in tribute to his work. Take a look at the National Forest Service’s description of it: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sierra/publications/pdfs/rogs/ansel-adams2006.pdf
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There are lots of books published about Ansel Adams, many with an emphasis on his photographs. Adams worked on an autobiography with Mary Street Alinder that was published in 1985 after his death and in 1996 she published a biography. I like reading his letters, which reveal his dynamic, humorous, and thoughtful nature and range from notes to his parents from camp to heated discussions about photography and world events: Ansel Adams: Letters and Images, 1916–1984, edited by Mary Street Alinder and Andrea Gray Stillman with a chronology by James Alinder (1988). Another interesting book talks about aspects of Adams’s career and how his work has had an impact on the next generation of photographers: Ansel Adams – New Light: Essays on His Legacy and Legend, edited by Michael Read (1993). For young readers, there is a biography of Adams, Ansel Adams: America’s Photographer by Beverly Gherman.
An admirer of Ansel Adams’ work, Robert Adams (no relation) offered a different view of the American landscape his 1974 book, The New West: Landscapes Along the Colorado Front Range. Robert Adams’ western vistas were not only inhabited, but were being bulldozed for housing projects and shopping complexes. Though the artist is deeply ambivalent about mankind’s alterations to the landscape, he often finds beauty in them, as well.
Subhankar Banerjee is best known for his large-scale photographs made in the Arctic wilderness. In a new body of work, Where I Live, I Hope to Know, he photographs in the area surrounding the planned community of Eldorado, just south of Santa Fe, to explore the landscape of home.
more information: http://www.subhankarbanerjee.org/
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Watch video footage of the artist talking about his work.
- The cholla cactus is a plant with at least twenty species that have adapted to the climates and locales they inhabit. Watch a video to learn more about chollas, tubercles, and glochids, and see why “teddy bear” cholla is not for hugging, at the DesertUSA site: http://www.desertusa.com/mag99/may/papr/chollas.html
- Subhankar Banerjee studied engineering as a young man and learned about photography on his own. He is best known for his work since 2000 in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where he has made photographs and films. He also has written and given lectures about the Arctic. http://www.subhankarbanerjee.org/
- After moving , to a community near Santa Fe, New Mexico, the artist realized that the environment wasn’t so different from the Arctic—both are considered deserts, defined as a places where more water is lost by evaporation than is gained as precipitation.
- Banerjee also writes about environmental topics, particularly global warming, which he posts on his website Climate Story Tellers http://www.climatestorytellers.org/"http://www.climatestorytellers.org/
- Pictures tell stories one way and words another, and Banerjee has relied on both approaches. Why would he choose one over the other?
- See a picture of the tiny bark beetle that is producing rapidly and feeding off the country’s piñon trees. http://skyblu.files.wordpress.com/2006/11/mt-pine-bark-beetle.JPG.
- The piñon (or pinyon) tree is an important food source for birds, especially for the Pinyon Jay. The “pine nut,” or seed, doesn’t have a way to travel (such as wings or stickers) and is dependent on birds and other animals to transport them to fresh ground. In return for his meal, the Pinyon Jay helps the tree to propagate by giving the seeds a ride. So, what happens when the tree dies and can’t make food, even for the bird named for it?
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I asked Subhankar Banerjee to recommend books and websites. He suggests:
A Keener Perception: Ecocritical Studies in American Art History, edited by Alan Braddock and Christoph Irmscher
Natural Vision: Power of Images in American Environmental Movement, by Finis Dunaway
Jean-Luc Mylayne, Twin Palm
Coming Home to Eat, by Gary Paul Nabhan
The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society, by Lucy R. Lippard
An Atlas of Critical Climate Change, ed. (forthcoming) [http://www.criticalclimatechange.com/atlas.html]
In her series Gridlines, Boston-area artist Bremner Benedict showcases the strong visual presence of power lines and the pylons that hold them aloft. While others may shift their cameras away from these structures, she wants us to look directly at them, and either accept their function or make other choices.
more information: http://www.bremnerbenedict.com/
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- Read about the history of electricity, and how some of the country’s great inventors created increasing demand for it (long before computers) at http://www.bydesign.com/fossilfuels/links/html/electricity/electric_history.html
- In 1930, the American artist Man Ray was hired to make a portfolio of photographs for a French electric company to help promote the use of electricity in people’s homes.
- In 1940s, the American firm General Electric published a series of comic books, called Adventures in Electricity (illustrated by George Roussos, who worked on the Batman comics) to help demystify the “man-made magic” of electricity: http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=464191
- The tallest electricity pylon is in China, on the Yangtze River at Jiangyin, at a height of 346.5 meters.
- Meet Flash Bristow, a web designer in Leytonstone, England, who administers the Pylon Appreciation Society, in an interview on the One Show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A-kF2AleT8. And check out the society’s website with an exhibition of her photographs of pylons at http://www.pylons.org/exhibition/.
- • If you’ve ever wondered why birds like to sit on electrical wires that that can kill them, Word Detective tells you why: http://www.word-detective.com/howcome/birdsonwires.html
- Are power pylons in your neighborhood? Can you tell what job they have based on their shape and materials? Wikipedia offers an entry full of information on the wonderful world of pylons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_pylon
- The architecture firm Choi+Shine took the fact that some electrical towers look like human figures one step further by turning pylons into sculpture, and won an award from the Boston Society of Architects. http://www.neatorama.com/2010/08/16/humanoid-electrical-pylons/
- Poet Walt Whitman wrote “I Sing the Body Electric,” and British author Stephen Spender wrote a poem about electrical pylons! http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/102285-Stephen-Spender-The-Pylons
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The Power Makers: Steam, Electricity, and the Men Who Invented Modern America, by Maury Klein A Shock to the System: Restructuring America's Electricity Industry, by Karen L. Palmer, Raymond J. Kopp, and Alan J. Krupnick Power of the People: America's New Electricity Choices, by Carol Sue Tombari
Trained as a biologist as well as a photographer, Michael P. Bermanhas concentrated his recent work, Under a Dry Moon: One Hundred Views of the Gran Desierto, on landscapes affected by overuse as well as neglect, especially in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. The artist seeks a new model for wilderness in a world in which persistent human demands have had a negative affect on nature’s recuperative ability.
more information: http://www.fragmentedimages.com/
In her long-term series Managing Eden, artist Joann Brennan of Denver, Colorado, presents a variety of engaging pictures showing the efforts of scientists to maintain the complex balance between the needs of people and those of wildlife populations affected by human intervention.
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- Do you know what to do if you find an injured or sick wild animal? See the guidelines posted by the Wildlife Center in Espanola, New Mexico: http://www.thewildlifecenter.org/content.php?content=regulations
- Phil Underdown, one of the artists whose work is included in Earth Now, lives in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. Find out what happened when beavers moved in! http://www.philunderdown.com/portfolios/trapperslament/index.html
- Many people have bird feeders at home and enjoy watching the activity around them through big, glass windows. But did you know that windows are one of the leading causes of death in migratory birds? Project Safe Flight in New York City has been working to develop non-reflective glass to help preserve the songbird population. Find out what you can do to help our flying friends: http://www.nycaudubon.org/NYCASBirdWatch/TabDefault.asp; http://www.fws.gov/birds/documents/Glass.pdf
- North America is home to at least three species of bear. The Center for Wildlife Information invites you to “Be Bear Aware” and discover the hidden talents of a certain dancing grizzly bear: http://www.centerforwildlifeinformation.org/BeBearAware/bebearaware.html
- In her recent book Being with Animals: Why We Are Obsessed with the Furry, Scaly, Feathered Creatures Who Populate Our World, the anthropologist Barbara J. King traces the complex human/animal relationship back to our earliest ancestors. Download a podcast from KKZN-AM to hear journalist David Sirota’s March 2010 interview with the author: http://www.am760.net/podcast/davidsirota.xml
- The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was founded in 1866 to encourage the gentle and respectful treatment of animals and to establish laws to ensure their care. Practice kindness to animals with their free downloadable Screenmate pet: http://www.aspcascreenmate.org/appsignup.aspx?utm_source=freestuff_thumb&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=freestuff_thumb
- The Living with Wildlife Foundation is devoted to “helping people and wildlife coexist.” Find out about the implications of feeding wildlife and download their Living with Predators resource guide: http://www.lwwf.org/
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- Being with Animals: Why We Are Obsessed with the Furry, Scaly, Feathered Creatures Who Populate Our World, by Barbara J. King
- Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology and The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World, by David Abrams
- Living with Wildlife: How to Enjoy, Cope with, and Protect North America's Wild Creatures Around Your Home and Theirs, by Diana Landau and Shelley Stump of the California Center for Wildlife
- Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia, by Stephen DeStephano
- Humans and Other Animals, by John Dupré
Chicago-based artist Suzette Bross’s images from the iscapes series are taken with a mobile phone during her daily commute. Her experience of nature is filtered through the window of her car, the technology of the camera in her phone, and her own memories.
In this series, Alternative Alternative Energy, Christine Chin strives to explore the creative boundaries of energy production, encouraging viewers to consider possibilities beyond the established fossil fuel-based energy economy. Here she imagines harnessing the energy created by the beating wings of moths as they flitter around a light source.
Dornith Doherty, an artist working in Texas, began her project Archiving Eden in 2008. Fascinated by the fact that the level of human interference in the natural world now includes a fail-safe scenario for the plants that sustain our lives, she has made images at some of the world’s most comprehensive seed banks.
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- Dornith Doherty talks about her series Archiving Eden at the Holly Johnson Gallery in Dallas, Texas: http://vimeo.com/7260694
- Dornith Doherty discusses how she sees the global seed vault as art: http://www.kera.org/artandseek/content/2010/04/05/think-tv-the-global-seed-vault-as-art/
- For some of her photographs, Dornith Doherty visited the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which opened in 2008 on a remote archipelago in Norway, about 800 miles from the North Pole. Seeds from all over the world are preserved there in an underground cavern. See pictures of the vault and read Dan Shapley’s article in The Daily Green: http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/svalbard-global-seed-vault-47022605 Watch a video segment from the television show 60 Minutes: http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/svalbard-global-seed-vault-47022605
- Artist Roxanne Swentzell has been saving and planting seeds for many years to preserve the cultural as well as the biological heritage of her community at the Santa Clara Pueblo in northern New Mexico. In 1987, she founded the nonprofit Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute to share information and help educate others about sustainable living and permaculture. Read about the Santa Clara Seed Bank: http://www.floweringtreepermaculture.org/ and see pictures of it at http://www.floweringtreepermaculture.org/
- Have you ever heard the word monoculture? Find out how it became a problem in Ireland in the 1880s and why we need to pay attention: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/_0_0/agriculture_02
- Kids might enjoy following the life cycle of plants online at this engaging site from the Birmingham Grid for Learning: http://www2.bgfl.org/bgfl2/custom/resources_ftp/client_ftp/ks2/science/plants_pt2/
- The purpose of seeds is to create more plants but many seeds are also edible, by birds and animals and people (but be careful, some are also toxic). How many different kinds of seeds have you tasted?
- The Global Crop Diversity Trust believes that, “together with the air we breathe and the water we drink, crop diversity is one of the most fundamentally important resources for human life on earth.” See what you think: http://www.croptrust.org/main/
- Do you know about the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources and the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture? http://www.globalplanofaction.org/servlet/CDSServlet?status=ND1ncGEmNj1lbiYzMz0qJjM3PWtvcw~~
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- Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology, by Vandana Shiva.
- Especially for kids—See the Amazing Science series published by Picture Window Books, including From Seed to Daisy: Following the Life Cycle, and Dirt (The Scoop on Soil).
- Also, take a look at The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle.
- For more suggestions, see the excellent blog titled The Miss Rumphius Effect from the educator Dr. Patricia Stohr-Hunt, and be sure to check out her poetry challenges, too! http://missrumphiuseffect.blogspot.com/2007/03/seeds-and-growing-things.html
During summer visits to the Southwest, where she now lives, Chris Enos began thinking about landscape more holistically and seeking her own place in it. She named this series for the ancient Greek goddess Gaia, who embodied Mother Earth. Her photographs are heavily painted and are hung low on the wall to remind us that we, too, are part of the environment.
more information: http://www.chrisenos.com/
The nuances of the American prairie have been a long-term subject for photographer Terry Evans. Though much of the work in the Inhabited Prairie series is lyrical,emphasizing qualities of beauty and endurance, the images from this series show how these complex ecosystems, once a vast and defining feature of this country’s landscape, have been altered by human intervention.
more information: http://www.terryevansphotography.com/
This new body of work by the New York-based artist Daniel Handal began with his interest in young farmers working in the Hudson River Valley of New York. These photographs are part of a larger series, which is still in development, called Between Forest and Field.
more information: http://www.danielhandal.com/
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- Another Earth Now artist, Matthew Moore, has worked in a variety of mediums (including sorghum) for his Urban Plough series. He is the last of four generations to farm his family’s land outside Phoenix, Arizona. Use the mobile timeline on his website to watch the landscape change over the years: http://www.urbanplough.com/
- Local Harvest’s website offers reasons to participate in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and helps you to find a CSA farm near you: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
- The Albuquerque artist David Ondrik has been photographing Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) in his city over the past year. Read his statement about this project at http://www.artisdead.net/statements.php; and see some of his pictures at http://www.artisdead.net/csawinterspring.php
- See the website of Sister’s Hill Farm in Stanfordville, New York, which is run by the Sisters of Charity, New York, and is one of the CSAs photographed by Handal: https://sistershillfarm.org/Home_Page.html
- Read a 2009 article from the Valley Table about Devin Foote and Tim Heuer of Common Ground Farm, Wappingers Falls, New York: http://www.valleytable.com/article.php?article=011+New+Crop%2FDevin+Foote+%26+Tim+Heuer+of+Common+Ground+Farm
- Find out “six good reasons to join a CSA” at the website of Phillies Bridge Farm in New Paltz, New York (and see some really beautiful chickens in the photo section): http://www.philliesbridge.org/csa/
- Nancy Sutor is a Santa Fe artist who has used the natural world close at hand as a source for inspiration in much of her work. See her website for pictures taken in her backyard garden, and don’t miss her still life photos of the contents of her compost bin: http://www.nancysutor.com/compost.html
- Permaculture is about designing self-sufficient and sustainable settlements that harmoniously integrate human lives with the environments in which they are lived. Find out more: http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/index/
- If you don’t have room for gardening at home or want to be part of a community of growers, the American Community Gardening Association can find a community garden near you or tell you how to start one in your neighborhood or school: http://communitygarden.org/
- Looking for a farmer’s market in your area? Use the search engine on the website of Local Harvest to find the nearest tomatoes and chard: http://www.localharvest.org/
- Many also people tend bees at home. In 1998, the San Francisco photographer Robert MacKimmie, started a company called City Bees with four sustainable goals. For an excellent list of articles and to see a picture of Robert wearing antennae (doing a bee dance?) http://www.citybees.com/earthday.html Go to his website: http://www.citybees.com/index.html
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When I visited the artist Nancy Sutor at her studio in Santa Fe, I saw some great pictures and I also found a big stack of books about the human relationship to nature and food. Here are some of the titles:
- Edible Estates, by Fritz Haeg
- Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, by Robert Pogue Harrison
- Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, by Robert Pogue Harrison
- A Philosophy of Gardens, by David E. Cooper
- Four Seasons in Five Senses, by David Mas Masumoto
- The Art of Eating, by MFK Fisher
- The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters
- Second Nature, by Michael Pollan
- Food Rules, by Michael Pollan
- Animal Vegetable Mineral, by Barbara Kingsolver
- Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden, by Diane Ackerman
- The Undaunted Garden, by Lauren Springer
- This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader, by Joan Dye Gussow
- Moveable Feasts: From Ancient Rome to the 21st Century, the Incredible Journey of the Foods We Eat, by Sarah Murray
- Bringing It to the Table and many other books by Wendell Berry
- All of Mary Oliver’s poems
In 1982, the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund commissioned photographers William Clift, Robert Ketchum, and Stephen Shore to photograph along the Hudson River with the intention of using their images to advocate for better care of the waterway. For Ketchum, it was an opportunity to confront viewers with the reality of the situation by showing the juxtaposition of the landscape alongside the remnants of human occupation. The Hudson River and the Highlands, by Robert Glenn Ketchum, was published by Aperature, in 1985.
I’ve noticed a proliferation of inspirational and how-to books (and blogs) on growing food at home and keeping small livestock, such as Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life and Barbara Kilarski’s Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces, that seem interesting.
Robert Glenn Ketchum's photographs and books have long influenced color photography of the natural world while addressing important national environmental issues. His work encompasses the startling beauty of nature as well as the marks of human enterprise on the landscape. Photographs from his many trips to Alaska evoke the strong connections between people and the environment.
Mark Klett was born in Albany, New York, and trained as a geologist. In many of his photographs, the artist shows evidence of the human presence in nature. Klett is a strong advocate for direct, personal experience with the outdoors. His traces of people – a hat, shadow, car, or tent – remind us that we are all part of the natural world and that there is much to enjoy in it even if it isn’t Eden.
For her series Monster, Atlanta-based artist Beth Lilly makes portraits of urban trees that have been trimmed to accommodate power lines. Her pictures of their contorted shapes emphasize the tenacity and adaptability of these herbaceous beings that are on the front lines of the conflict between nature and culture.
more information: http://bethlilly.com/
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- Trees have their own holiday, Arbor Day. It was established in 1872, in Nebraska City, Nebraska, largely due to the work of J. Sterling Morton, an agriculturist and politician. The Arbor Day Foundation is active in reforestation efforts and offers tips on identifying and planting trees: http://www.arborday.org/media/pressreleases/pressrelease.cfm?id=95
- Another artist in the Earth Now exhibition, Brad Moore, has photographed the relationship between people and landscape in Southern California. Look at some of Moore’s work from his series Familiar and compare them with Beth Lilly’s trees. Is the message the same or different? What are the strategies they use to get their messages across (color, shape, attitude)? http://www.bradmoore.com/work/familiar1.html
- Did you know that the United States has a national tree? In 2004, the public voted to select the oak as the national tree, and Congress passed legislation to make it official. Many states also have a state tree. In New Mexico, it’s the piñon, a hardy pine tree that produces edible nuts. Find your state tree: http://www.50states.com/tree/"http://www.50states.com/tree/
- Earth Now artist Laurel Schultz uses her camera to imagine what the world looks like from a tree's perspective in her series, Arboreality: laurelschultz.com/Portfolio.cfm
- Scientists also keep track of the size of trees. The organization American Forests maintains an annual National Register of Big Trees (Trunk Circumference + Height + ¼ Average Crown + Spread) with pictures and the names of the people who nominated these champion trees: http://www.americanforests.org/resources/bigtrees/search_options.php
- See some of photographer Barbara Bosworth’s pictures of champion trees: http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/bosworth/
- How do specialists measure the height of a tree? By climbing it (very carefully). Jim Spickler is a forest canopy scientist who climbed a redwood tree in California in 2006 to find out how if it could be classified as the new tallest tree. “This is a living organism and it’s been there for thousands of years,” he says. Perched in the tree’s spire, above the rest of the forest, Spickler says “you cannot imagine the experience.” See his ascent and hear about his ascent and the importance of preserving old-growth trees: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIoZ0J7x1Cg
- The Italian composer and sound artist Diego Stocco is known for using elements of nature and commonplace objects to make music. A particular tree he admired inspired him to collaborate with it to create Music from a Tree. Don’t miss the chance to see and hear the performance of this extraordinary piece and to read a short interview with Stocco: http://www.greenmuze.com/nature/trees/1437-making-music-with-trees.html
- If you are an adult who is longing for the sensation of being up in the branches—like when you were a kid—there are treehouse hotels! Travel + Leisure magazine lists the top ten in the world: http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/worlds-best-treehouse-hotels
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The landscape photographer Barbara Bosworth traveled around the country photographing some of the biggest and best trees in the United States, which you can see in her book, Trees: National Champions, published by MIT Press, 2005. For information about the amazing life of trees, try The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter, by Colin Tudge; and Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History, by Diana Wells. Especially for kids, take a look at From Seed to Pine Tree: Following the Life Cycle, by Suzanne Slade and Jeff Yesh.
Originally trained as a scientist, Greg Mac Gregor is attracted to the intersection of technology and the landscape, as well as to the idea of landscape as theater. His recent work, Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, named for the facility near Socorro, New Mexico, features detritus from the company’s sanctioned experiments with explosives.
more information: http://www.gregmacgregor.com/
In The Lake Project, David Maisel presents aerial views of California’s Owens Lake, which has largely evaporated due to its diversion into the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The resulting concentration of brine and minerals has fostered the growth of bacteria which gives the water its bright colors. These are visually appealing in a work of art but belie the toxic nature of this dessicated landscape.
more information: http://www.davidmaisel.com/
Much of Victor Masayesva, Jr.’s, work is unified by his interest in the human relationship to the environment, his personal connection with the land, and his identity as a member of the Hopi community. References to the cycles of nature, ancestral heritage, and the continuum of time lend a rich philosophical tone to his compositions of simple elements.
Long a chronicler of the western landscape, Richard Misrach works with the tension between beauty and horror in this series, Bravo 20, to reveal the damage to a desert tract near Fallon, Nevada, caused by unauthorized weapons testing by the U.S. government.
These photographs, from Brad Moore's series Familiar, were shot in modest, well-worn, suburban cities in central and inland Southern California where the artist grew up. Built in the 1950s and 60s, these cities provided a new homes for a booming post-war population, and their landscaping often reflects a desire to tame nature.
After his grandfather sold the family’s land to a developer, Arizona artist Matthew Moore marked his role as the last of four generations of farmers by planting crops in the shape of the suburban development that was planned for the site. Working with his father and his wife, Moore planted sorghum to represent the houses and wheat for the roads, then donated the grain to a local dairy. From the series, Moore Estates.
more information: http://urbanplough.com/work.php
Rotations: Moore Estates #5, 2006
Chromogenic print face-mounted to Plexiglas
Courtesy of the artist and Lisa Sette Gallery
Photographer Patrick Nagatani was born in Chicago in 1945, just days after American troops released an atomic bomb over Hiroshima. The fact that his father’s family lived just outside Hiroshima and that the artist assumed a teaching post in New Mexico, the state in which the atomic bomb was tested, prompted Nagatani to explore the history of the nuclear industry in the region, including his Nuclear Enchantment series.
Bill Owens has been using photography to examine the culture of the American Middle Class for almost four decades. Here he uses the camera’s descriptive quality to encourage us to laugh at ourselves, making a picture that includes spectacular natural scenery along with a place for the natural functions of its visitors.
more information: http://www.billowens.com/
Eliot Porter (1901-1990) grew up in Illinois but spent summers with his family on Great Spruce Head Island, off the coast of Maine. Given a camera at the age of eleven, he began photographing nature and was especially interested in birds, a subject that would lead him to master color
photography. Porter later served on the board of the Sierra Club and the books he published with them (see the display case in the exhibition) were extremely influential for photographers and environmentalists alike.
more information: http://www.cartermuseum.org/collections/porter/
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- Writer and aural historian Jack Loeffler remembers visiting Eliot Porter's studio
- On December 10, 2008, the city of Santa Fe honored Eliot Porter with a bronze plaque along its Artists Walk of Fame on Palace Avenue, in front of the New Mexico Museum of Art. Pay homage next time you visit the Plaza.
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Have a reading suggestion to share? Tell us:
Porter’s first book In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World: Selections and Photographs by Eliot Porter (1962), was an important one for people concerned about the environment as well as those interested in photography. Porter’s second book, The Place No One Knew: Glen Canyon on the Colorado (1963), includes two pictures in this online preview. For a great overview of Porter’s career with lots of pictures, try John Rohrbach’s book Eliot Porter: The Color of Wildness (2001), with essays by Rebecca Solnit and a memoir by Porter’s son Jonathan. Another photographer who made numerous visits (at least thirty!) to Glen Canyon with his camera was Tad Nichols. In addition to his still photographs made down in the canyon, Nichols also made aerial views and film footage. He shared information about the canyon with Eliot Porter and sometimes the two men traveled together. See his black-and-white photographs, with additional text by Gary Ladd in the book Glen Canyon: Images of a Lost World, published by the Museum of New Mexico Press, 1998).
Based in North Carolina, Brook Reynolds uses abandoned gas stations in her series Light, Sweet Crude to examine the American relationship to a finite fuel source, oil, and to imagine a future in which nature reclaims the sites of its distribution.
more information: http://www.brookreynoldsphotography.com/
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- Earth Now artist Sonja Thomsen explores American oil consumption from a personal perspective. Her own annual oil use was recycled into a piece for her series Oil. http://www.sonjathomsen.com/
- Looking at increased research on alternative energy sources, Christine Chin has imagined some truly unexpected energy sources, and her Moth Generator will be included in the museum exhibition Earth Now: American Photographers and the Envirionment (April 8–August 28, 2011). See some of her other ideas in her series Alternative Alternative Energy: http://people.hws.edu/chin/ChristineChinWebsite/alternative2energy/index.htm
- Forget about green energy, and consider “brown energy.” While traveling abroad, the conceptual artist Matthew Mazzotta learned about methane digesters and decided to put pet waste to work in his community. The result was the Park Spark Project in Cambridge, Mass., which encourages people to deposit dog waste in a container and turn a wheel that converts it to energy, providing power to a lamp that lights the park at night. Yes, it really works! http://matthewmazzotta.com/home.html
- Marine biologist Steve Palumbi of Stanford University observes that historically, human beings have treated oceans “in two strange ways at the same time, as a pantry and a toilet.” See a clip from the History Channel’s “Life After People, 150-300 Years After” for what might happen if we are taken out of the equation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlA74uyhxXg&NR=1
- Gas stations were once a symbol of American affluence and the car culture that sprung from it. Many offer happy reminders of road trips past and are now interesting as vernacular architecture. Visit Don Sherwood’s (virtual) Vintage Gas Museum for a gas-free trip down memory lane: http://www.vintagegas.com/
- “Is the United States Addicted to Oil?” Jennifer Horton reports for the Discovery Company’s How Stuff Works website: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/us-gas-addiction.htm. And take a look at “5 Myths About Renewable Energy,” by Robert Lamb: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/5-myths-renewable-energy.htm
Read all about it
- The Earth Without Us, by Alan Weisman
- “An Earth Without People,” by Steve Mirsky, in Scientific American, June 17, 2007, and check out the related video: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=an-earth-without-people&page=1
In this series, Arboreality, Laurel Schultz makes photographs from the perspective of a common, but often ignored, feature of the landscape: trees. The artist reminds us that we share the world with these living beings, inviting us to bridge the gap between nature and culture by imagining life from their points of view.
more information: http://www.laurelschultz.com/
Using a map created by NASA that records the light production of urban areas at night, Christina Seely set out to photograph cities in the three brightest regions of the world – North America, Europe, and Japan. In this series, Lux,, she identifies the sites by location rather than by name, to stress the global reach of the problem of light pollution.
more information: http://www.christinaseely.com/
For nearly two decades, Sharon Stewart has photographed the connection to water, land, and community in the northern New Mexico village of El Cerrito for the series El Agua es la Vida. Herself a rural resident of the state, she offers the work as a positive model for sustainability through cooperation.
Check it out
- In Spanish, the word limpiar means “to clean” but also suggests purification. The annual cleaning of the acequias (the ditches in which water flows) is called a limpia and is a community effort that is organized by the mayordomo, the person chosen to oversee the irrigation system and help mediate disputes. Hear how these words are pronounced: http://www.onlinespanishhelp.com/
- Rick and Melody Romancito made a rollicking good video for the Taos News Media Center of the cleanup of the Acequia de San Francisco de Padua in Lower Ranchitos in Taos, New Mexico, on May 5, 2007, “even though the wind was a torment, and it was snowing up in the mountains.” All that’s missing are the sore muscles and the party afterward! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Uay5LZADk&feature=related
- Read Staci Matlock’s spring 2010 article on cleaning the mother ditch (acequia madre), from the Santa Fe New Mexican: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/LocalNews/Following-the-flow-of-tradition
- See Juan Chavez, mayordomo of la Acequia Francisco de Martínez at work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3viLTRXSR4&feature=related
- The New Mexico Acequia Association is a membership organization that provides education and supports the historic communal irrigation systems (acequias) that are part of life and culture in New Mexico. http://www.lasacequias.org/
- The Acequia Institute has a page of links to additional resources: http://www.acequiainstitute.org/linksresources.html
- In their book River of Traps: A Village Life, writer William deBuys and photographer Alex Harris give a visceral portrait of northern New Mexico and how the acequia is central to village life. Watch a slideshow with excerpts from the text: http://www.terrain.org/essays/22/debuys_harris.htm
- Musician and composer Evan Chambers collaborated with a video artist, a troupe of dancers, and an orchestra to create a multi-media performance about the Huron River in Michigan. See excerpts under River: Headwaters and River: Mussels Story at http://evanchambers.net/index.cfm?pagename=media
Read all about it
- Mayordomo: Chronicle of an Acequia in Northern New Mexico, by Stanley Crawford
- River of Traps: A Village Life, by William deBuys and Alex Harris
- The Milagro Beanfield War, by John Nichols
- Acequia Culture: Water, Land & Community in the Southwest, by José A. Rivera
- Acequia: Water Sharing, Sanctity, and Place by Sylvia Rodriguez
After the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, Carlan Tapp moved from Seattle to Santa Fe, to dedicate himself to socially concerned photography. In the ongoing-series Question of Power, he examines the social and environmental impact of mining in the United States.
more information: http://www.carlantapp.com/
Check it out
- Read Elouise Brown’s report in the Earth First! journal on a protest by the citizens of Burnham, New Mexico, against the siting of a third coal plant within a twenty-mile radius of the Navajo Nation: http://www.earthfirstjournal.org/article.php?id=288
- Take a look at Yvonne Liu’s article for YES! Magazine on alternatives to coal mining on the Navajo Nation: http://www.energybulletin.net/node/52778
- Norman Patrick Brown, an activist involved with the Navajo Strength movement, talks about the ongoing exploitation of the Navajo Nation’s rich natural resources: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJpPYZGDhMk
- The ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber has studied the topic of environment and human rights, with a particular focus on the issues of chemical contamination. Simmons B. Buntin interviews her for Terrain.org, A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments: http://www.terrain.org/interview/20/
- Documentary filmmaker and photographer Jason Jaacks has photographed extensively in the Tohono O’odham Nation in the Southwest, now bisected by the United States’s border fence. The fence and passport requirements inhibit movement around their ancestral homeland and limit access to sacred sites. Antone Dolezal talks with the artist about his series A Voice in the Desert for finite foto: http://finitefoto.arloartists.com/private/page/p5oE/13101
- One Day At a Time, a short film collaboration between Cordillera Productions and Niche Photographic Arts, finds out what sustainability means to people, including brewers, anglers, and bicyclists: http://www.cordilleraproductions.com/?p=561
- What might New Mexico’s age of renewable energy look like? With rising demand for energy but decreasing and finite energy resources, we clearly need a new plan! Kenny Ausubel and Peter Warshall founded the Dreaming New Mexico Project to seek and encourage alternatives to present energy systems within the state (among other ambitious goals). http://www.dreamingnewmexico.org/
- Honor the Earth is a unique, Native American-led initiative to address environmental issues in Native communities and to work toward a sustainable future with them. The organization acknowledges music and the arts as resources in their work, along with communications media and indigenous wisdom: http://www.honorearth.org/about-us
- For radio listeners, Bioneers:Revolution from the Heart of Nature, is now in its tenth season: http://www.bioneers.org/radio/bioneers-radio-series
- The University of Minnesota provides students with an opportunity to study (and minor in) Native American perspectives on the environment: http://www.cfans.umn.edu/UndergraduateStudents/CurrentStudents/MajorsandMinors/NativeAmericanEnvironmentalKnowledgeMinor/index.htm
- Also, see the Educator’s Guide to American Indian Perspectives in Natural Resources, by Frank Kanawha Lake and Dennis Martinez: http://www.ncsr.org/materials/nativeamericanmanualsummary.html
Read all about it
- Coal: A Human History, by Barbara Freese
- Consuming Power: A Social History of American Energies, by David E. Nye
- Sustainable Tribal Economies, by Winona Duke and the staff of Honor the Earth
- The Bioneers: Declarations of Interdependence, by Kenny Ausubel (1995)
- Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, by Sandra Steingraber
- Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future, by Jeff Goodell
The contemporary human relationship to landscape has been a consistent topic of study for Chicago artist Brad Temkin. In his newest work, Rooftop, Temkin photographs plantings on top of buildings to examine the green roof movement and the visual sanctuary it offers in urban settings.
more information: http://www.bradtemkin.com/
Check it out
- The city of Chicago is a leader in implementing green roofs on civic buildings. Richard M. Daley, the former mayor, dedicated the first rehabilitated municipal building in the country in 2002, the Chicago Center for Green Technology. It has become a national model for sustainable design and serves as a resource for education about green design and technology.
- Dr. Paul Mankiewicz is a biologist and philosopher in New York City who founded a nonprofit organization called the Gaia Institute. His work centers on finding mutually beneficial connections between human activities and natural systems. He and his colleagues even came up with a special soil mix for rooftop planting. See some of their innovative projects at: http://www.gaiainstituteny.org/
- Whether you love her, hate her, or have never heard of her, you’ve got to read her: Jane Jacobs on “The Greening of the City”: http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4857&page=1
- Planting a green roof is not for the uninformed! Katherine Noyes provides encouragement, tips, and links: http://charityguide.org/volunteer/fewhours/green-roof.htm
- Architect Daniel Libeskind has designed a group of apartment towers with crowns of trees and greenery. The project, which is under construction, won the Green Mark Gold Award for environmentally responsible building and construction. http://www.daniel-libeskind.com/projects/show-all/reflections/
- Want more conceptual and greenish design? Inspiration is yours at inhabitat (see architecture and energy sections, but enter the art section at your own risk!) : http://www.inhabitat.com/about/
- Find out about green roofs the world over in Sarah Kuck’s article “Green Roofs: The Urban Jungle’s Upper Canopy”: http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/010211.html
- Cathleen McGuigan opines about the esthetics of green architecture for Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/2008/09/05/the-bad-news-about-green-architecture.html
- Ready to step up your commitment to green living? Visit a community of sustainable earthships (made of earth, tires, and other recyclables) in Taos, New Mexico, with the Weather Channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ENIhmDskmY&feature=related
- And watch the film trailer for Garbage Warrior, featuring the revolutionary architect Michael Reynolds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlBadkb-xqw
- The Horticulture Department at Michigan State University includes a Green Roof Research Program that was begun in 2000 to help advise the Ford Motor Company on installing a 10.4-acre green roof on an assembly plant in Dearborn: http://www.greenroofs.org/index.php/grhccommittees/290?task=view
Read all about it
- Worldchanging: A Users Guide for the 21st Century, edited by Alex Steffen
- Green Architecture: The Art of Architecture in the Age of Ecology, by James Wines
- Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable Underground Home, by Rob Roy
In her series Oil, Wisconsin-based artist Sonja Thomsen examines the murky subject of oil consumption. Photographing the oil that she herself has used, she creates seductive yet menacing surfaces that lure our attention and hint at the complexities of this common but often controversial substance.
more information: http://www.sonjathomsen.com/
Thinking about where to situate his family, Robert Toedter did some research on toxic sites in New York state and was surprised by their number. A further surprise for the viewer are his pictures, which show many of these places being repurposed, despite their listing as toxic cleanup priorities, for human housing and recreation. From the series, National Priorities List.
more information: http://www.toedter.org/
Inspired by his love of nature, photographer Phil Underdown moved to a property in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York. Before long, a large number of beavers also made a home there, building numerous dams, felling trees near the artist’s house, and damaging the septic system. Reluctantly, Underdown hired a trapper and photographed the aftermath, in this series, The Trapper's Lament.
more information: http://www.brooklyndigital.com/