The exhibition Picturing the Land explores how artists mediated and defined perceptions of the land. To explore these concepts more deeply, Maggie Cao, assistant professor of art history, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will present a talk titled “Painting the American Wasteland.”
In the 19th century, marshes and swamps were considered wastelands, standing in the way of agriculture and urbanization. This lecture explores American paintings of wetlands before they were considered beautiful vistas and vital ecosystems. Why did landscape painters like Martin Johnson Heade and Thomas Moran portray these so-called wastelands in the Civil War era? How did these unusual environments challenge the conventions of landscape painting at the time? And, how do the wastelands of the past relate to our present-day understanding of wetland ecosystems?
An audience Q&A moderated by Alexandra Letvin, assistant curator of European and American art, will follow the talk.
This event is cosponsored by the Presidential Initiative on Food Insecurity funded by a New President's grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.