Almost since its invention, photography has played an important role in shaping how we understand the American landscape. This exhibition of nearly one hundred photographs opens with a small suite of prints by the famous landscape photographers Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter, examining how they used their works of art in the service of environmental causes.
The example they set provoked a range of strong responses by younger photographers, especially in the context of a growing environmental movement, as illustrated in the show with images by Robert Adams, Robert Glenn Ketchum, Mark Klett, Richard Misrach, and others.
Having set the stage with these important masters, the exhibition continues with a large section of new work from the beginning of the twenty-first century. A selection of photographs by approximately twenty artists shows how a range of contemporary photographers are responding right now to some of the most pressing issues of our time, such as energy consumption, changing agricultural practices, toxic waste, and the human relationship to animals and to the land. A highlight of the show will be images from new bodies of work by Subhankar Banerjee, Daniel Handal, Brad Temkin, and Phil Underdown.
Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter, pioneers in landscape photography, were working at a time when a greater awareness and growing concern for the environment was emerging. These two men whose love for their subject, so breathtakingly captured in their work, were sympathetic to the nascent environmental movement and allowed their art to be used to further the cause. Earth Now starts with a suite of works by these two artists and moves on to a group of younger landscape photographers who came of age in the 1970s – Robert Adams, Robert Glenn Ketchum, and Mark Klett – using their powerful images as subtle advocacy.
Earth Now: American Photographers and the Environment opens April 8, 2011 at the New Mexico Museum of Art documents the influence of these two masters on subsequent generations of American landscape photographers. The exhibition runs through October 9, 2011.
The exhibition brings to the fore a group of nearly seventy contemporary photographs, many shown for the first time, to examine how American artists of our time are engaging with issues of environmental concern. This varied and lively group of photographs invites visitors to enjoy the visual pleasures of photography by masters as well as newcomers, as well as to ponder their own relationship to the landscape and their thinking about some of the present-day social issues in the context of an industrialized society—energy consumption, changing agricultural practices, waste management, land use. Using strategies such as beauty, humor, and horror to engage attention, these photographers provoke questions about the environment while pointing toward new directions such as local farming, new energy source technologies, green roofs, and a renewed connection with the landscapes we inhabit.
While many of these artists are working in New Mexico and the western United States – including Michael Berman, Joann Brennan, Dornith Doherty, Chris Enos, Greg Mac Gregor, Carlan Tapp, Victor Masayesva, and Sharon Stewart – others represent cities ranging from Seattle to New York and San Francisco to Atlanta. A highlight of the show will be images from brand-new bodies of work by Subhankar Banerjee, Daniel Handal, Brad Temkin, and Phil Underdown.