Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment presents more than 120 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, videos, and works of decorative art, from the colonial period to the present, exploring for the first time how American artists of different traditions and backgrounds have both reflected and shaped environmental understanding while contributing to the development of a modern ecological consciousness.
This sweeping exhibition engages a wide range of genres and historical contexts—from colonial furniture to the art of Jeffersonian natural science, from Hudson River landscape painting to Native American basketry, from Dust Bowl regionalism to modernist abstraction and postwar environmental activism—highlighting the evolving ecological implications of subjects and contexts of creation as well as artistic materials and techniques. The result is a major reinterpretation of American art that examines both iconic masterpieces and rarely seen objects through a lens uniting art historical interpretation with environmental history, scientific analysis, and the dynamic field of ecocriticism.
Organized by the Princeton University Art Museum, the exhibition is co-curated by Karl Kusserow, John Wilmerding Curator of American Art at the Princeton University Art Museum, and Alan C. Braddock, Ralph H. Wark Associate Professor of Art History and American Studies at the College of William & Mary.
After its premiere at Princeton (Oct. 13, 2018–Jan. 6, 2019), the exhibition travels to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts (Feb. 2–May 5, 2019) and to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas (May 25–Sept. 9, 2019).
A two-day international symposium, "Picture Ecology: Art and Ecocriticism in Planetary Perspective," is being convened December 7–8, 2018, in conjunction with the exhibition.