Contemporary Artists Investigate Human Imprints on the Natural World at the Princeton University Art Museum

PRINCETON, NJ – Traces on the Landscape, a new exhibition, brings together eight contemporary artists who employ still and moving images, poetry, sound, natural materials, and historic photographic technologies to interrogate our understanding of humans’ relationship to the natural world.  The exhibition considers the connotations of a “trace”—the sign of a former presence, a piece of evidence, a path of discovery—as a means through which photography can reveal intersection of the natural landscape with the body, identity, and memory.

Featuring works by Kelli Connell, Dionne Lee, Leah Dyjak, Emmet Gowin, Deborah Jack, Mark Klett, Byron Wolfe, and Xing Danwen, the exhibition will be on view at Art on Hulfish in downtown Princeton from May 20 to August 6, 2023.

In the exhibition, Jack and Lee consider the ecological and historical legacies of natural resources, including salt, water, and gold. Dyjak, Gowin, and Xing examine questions of almost incomprehensible scale: How do human choices affect complex ecosystems or irrevocably change the natural environment? Gowin’s iconic aerial photographs from his Nevada Test Site series capturing the scars left on the desert landscape by the United States government’s nuclear testing program are juxtaposed with Dyjak’s documentation of the insufficiency of bureaucratic infrastructure to preserve the fragile wetlands of the Mississippi river from the deleterious effects of climate change.  Connell, Klett, and Wolfe engage the practice of “rephotography,” following in the footsteps of earlier generations of photographers. While Connell retraces the twentieth-century journey of Edward Weston and Charis Wilson through the American West, Klett and Wolfe revisit the scenes of photographs taken by William Bell as part of an 1872 mapping expedition of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon.

“The multigenerational photographers in this exhibition suggest the many ways in which photographers continually challenge the way we see the natural world, drawing on the rich history of landscape photography but complicating it to engage, move, and disquiet the viewer,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director. “Traces on the Landscape sparks precisely the kind of dialogue between past and present and among a variety of innovative artists that our exhibitions at Art on Hulfish aim to foster while we build a new Museum facility.”

The public is invited to an open house of the exhibition on Saturday, May 20th, from 1 to 4 p.m. hosted by the exhibition’s curator, Beth Gollnick. Additionally, Art Museum members are invited to a members-only open house with refreshments on Friday, May 19 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. On Thursday, June 22 at 5:30 p.m., artists Kelli Connell and Byron Wolfe will join the curator at Art on Hulfish for a conversation about their work inspired by iconic images from photographic history.

Traces on the Landscape is organized and presented by the Princeton University Art Museum.


About Art on Hulfish

Art on Hulfish showcases a roster of exhibitions led by photography and time-based media that consider issues of profound impact on twenty-first-century life. Located at 11 Hulfish Street in downtown Princeton, it encompasses some 5,500 square feet of space for exhibitions and public programming, ranging from drop-in activities to scheduled work with artists. Admission is free. Launched in December 2021, the gallery is presenting four exhibitions each year through late 2024, during the time when the Museum’s new facility designed by Sir David Adjaye is under construction.

Art on Hulfish is made possible by the leadership support of Annette Merle-Smith and Princeton University. Generous support is also provided by William S. Fisher, Class of 1979, and Sakurako Fisher; J. Bryan King, Class of 1993; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; John Diekman, Class of 1965, and Susan Diekman;  Barbara and Gerald Essig; Rachelle Belfer Malkin, Class of 1986, and Anthony E. Malkin; the Curtis W. McGraw Foundation; Tom Tuttle, Class of 1988, and Mila Tuttle; Nancy A. Nasher, Class of 1976, and David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976; Gene Locks, Class of 1959, and Sueyun Locks; and Palmer Square Management.  

About the Princeton University Art Museum

With a collecting history that extends back to 1755, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, featuring collections that have grown to include more than 114,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe. Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world.

The main Museum building is currently closed for the construction of a bold and welcoming new building, designed by architect Sir David Adjaye and his firm Adjaye Associates, in collaboration with executive architects Cooper Robertson, and slated to open in Spring 2025.

Art on Hulfish, a gallery project of the Art Museum located at 11 Hulfish Street, is open daily. Art@Bainbridge, a gallery project at 158 Nassau Street, is open Tuesday through Sunday. Admission to both galleries is free.

Please visit the Museum’s website for digital access to the collections, a diverse portfolio of programs, and details on visiting our downtown galleries. The Museum Store in Palmer Square, located at 56 Nassau Street in downtown Princeton, is open daily, or shop online at

Media Contact: María Huiza,, 917.355.5286