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Manifest Destiny/Manifest Responsibility: Environmentalism and the Art of the American Landscape

May 17 - August 10, 2008


Manifest Destiny/Manifest Responsibility: Environmentalism and the Art of the American Landscape opens May 17, 2008 and runs through August 10, 2008 at the Loyola University Museum of Art. The exhibition of 55 still-life paintings and landscape art from the Terra Foundation collection is co-organized by the Terra Foundation for American Art and Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA). Curated by Peter John Brownlee, postdoctoral curatorial fellow, Terra Foundation for American Art, the exhibition invites viewers to examine the ecological, cultural and spiritual aspects of their environmental "footprints" by showcasing paintings, prints, pastels and drawings created by a wide range of celebrated American artists. (right: William S. Jewett, The Promised Land - The Grayson Family, 1850, Oil on canvas, Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.79)

"This exciting and thought-provoking exhibition explores America's longstanding relationship to a land traditionally considered to be our national birthright," said Brownlee. "The scenes depicted in Manifest Destiny bear traces of evolving environmental attitudes and remind us of our responsibility towards environmental awareness and stewardship. This critical responsibility is made 'manifest' by the current environmental crises taking place both in our country and around the world."

"We are proud to partner with the Terra Foundation for American Art to offer such a stimulating investigation of environmental issues through the lens of renowned landscape artists from the Terra's collection," said Pamela Ambrose, director of cultural affairs, LUMA. "Viewers of Manifest Destiny will certainly come away from the exhibition with new ideas about the complex relationship Americans have had with their ecological surroundings."

Manifest Destiny is one of 100 historical American art exhibitions, programs and collections that are part of the Terra Foundation for American Art's citywide, multi-year $3 million initiative entitled American Art American City. Through December 2008, 30 partners from cultural organizations around Chicago are providing dynamic and engaging opportunities to learn about a range of art, from murals and sculptures to paintings and photographs; from celebrated artists Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol to undiscovered favorites. Additional information is available at AmericanArtamericanCity.org, a comprehensive resource that includes extensive program listings and information, an e-newsletter, contests, exclusive special offers and a searchable calendar of events. (left: Martin Johnson Heade, Newburyport Marshes: Approaching Storm, c. 1871, Oil on canvas, Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.68)

The first section of the Manifest Destiny exhibition, "Bounty," features representations of flora and fauna that European settlers discovered in the new world, and explores how those discoveries found expression in the early decades of American history following the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). This section is centered on John James Audubon's The Wild Turkey from the famed "elephant portfolio" of Birds of America, and is framed by early landscapes by William Groombridge, Thomas Doughty and Edward Hicks. A group of 19th-century still-life paintings of fruit baskets is paired with the abstracted flora and fruits of modernists Charles Sheeler, Georgia O'Keeffe and Charles Demuth.

The exhibition's second section, "Manifest Destiny," tracks Westward movement and settlement. Paintings by George Inness, Martin Johnson Heade and Alfred Bricher highlight various uses of the landscape for farming, fishing, hunting, landscape tourism, mining, and logging. The decades around 1900 were an intense period of settlement and industrial development, and marked a period of growing environmental awareness and concern.

Following this awakening to the vulnerability of the natural world, the broader idea of "Manifest Responsibility" is explored in the exhibition's third section. The Impressionist art movement created a softened optical gaze that rendered landscapes with a pronounced empathy to their fragility, quietude and fleetingness. As a result, tender images by artists including John Twachtman, Ernest Lawson and Willard Metcalf showcase atmosphere, thawing ice, spring growth and gently flowing streams.

These images eventually gave way to abstracted and simplified forms of the aesthetic movement. Flattened forms, fluid shapes, simplified color schemes and stylistic features borrowed from the aesthetic of Japanese prints are showcased in images by Arthur Wesley Dow and his students. The abstract works of Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley explore the structural make up of natural forms, and mark a turn toward the southwest and an adaptation of Native American motifs. These abstractions gave way to fantastic and symbolic representations of nature, as showcased in works by Bertha Lum and Charles Burchfield. The exhibition closes with urban cityscapes by John Marin, Charles Sheeler, Louis Lozowick and Reginald Marsh, underscoring the point that urban areas are part of the viewer's "environment," and form a portion of "natural surroundings" for wise and efficient use. (right: Charles Burchfield, Dream of a Fantasy Flower 1960-66, Watercolor with wiping and scraping, over an off-white wove watercolor paper mounted on a millboard support, Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.23)


Exhibition catalogue

Manifest Destiny is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue featuring two essays, a checklist and color plates. Noted art historian Angela Miller provides a brief introduction. Peter John Brownlee contributes an essay that examines issues surrounding the ecological, cultural and spiritual themes explored in the artworks. A second essay by Michael Hogue, assistant professor of theology, Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary, surveys the cultural and spiritual aspects of environmental thinking in North America.


Public education programs

LUMA is offering a number of public educational programs in conjunction with Manifest Destiny. The programs draw from a wide range of disciplines (including visual arts, poetry, activism, spirituality and literature), and include plans for all-day scholarly symposium, public lectures and a teacher workshop.

Continuing the Dialogue: Environmental Destiny/Environmental Responsibility
Friday, May 16, 10 a.m. ­ 5 p.m.
Simpson Lecture Hall, LUMA
This free, day-long symposium with nationally recognized scholars will address the American landscape as the center of social responsibility, artistic expression, and spiritual/cultural meaning. The main themes of Manifest Destiny/Manifest Responsibility -- bounty, manifest destiny, and manifest responsibility -- will also be considered.
Manifest Destiny/Manifest Responsibility: A Walk-Through with the Curator
Tuesday, May 20, 6 p.m.
Join Dr. Peter John Brownlee, curator and Terra Foundation's Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, as he provides an in-depth look into Manifest Destiny/Manifest Responsibility and examines the effects of environmental footprints. Free admission.
Environmental Stewardship Made Manifest: Ethical and Moral Consequences of America's Westward Expansion
Tuesday, June 10, 6 p.m.
Simpson Lecture Hall, LUMA
Investigate the themes of Manifest Destiny/Manifest Responsibility and trace the consequences of America's expansion through North America with Dr. Calvin Dewitt, who is considered a "world class conservationist" by the National Wildlife Federation. The event, free for LUMA members and fee for non-members, will highlight nature's wonderment and pinpoint the need to care for our planet.
Artist Talk with Gary Kolb
Tuesday, June 17, 6 p.m.
Simpson Lecture Hall, LUMA
Join LUMA as they welcome photographer Gary Kolb for a discussion of the exhibition, Landscapes by Photographer Gary Kolb. The event is free for LUMA members and fee for non-members.
What Hath God Wrought
Wednesday, June 25, 6 p.m.
Simpson Lecture Hall, LUMA
Join Daniel Howe, professor emeritus, UCLA, as he relates Manifest Destiny/Manifest Responsibility to his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, and addresses nature's divinity and design. This event is free for LUMA members and fee for non-members.
Inspired by Nature: The Garfield Park Conservatory and Chicago's West Side
Tuesday, July 1, 6 p.m.
Simpson Lecture Hall, LUMA
Join historian Julia S. Bachrach as she presents her new book, Inspired by Nature: The Garfield Park Conservatory and Chicago's West Side, and illustrates the fascinating history of Garfield Park, its conservatory, and nature's importance to the community. This event is free for LUMA members and fee for non-members.
Creation Care: Biblical Interpretations of the Earth's Care
Tuesday, July 22, 6 p.m.
Simpson Lecture Hall, LUMA
Learn about the roles of the faithful, scientists, and culture-formers, as Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals, refers to biblical passages that affirm our need to protect creation. This event is free for LUMA members and fee for non-members.

For more details on the public educational programs, including fees, please visit http://www.luc.edu/luma/


About the Terra Foundation for American Art

The Chicago-based Terra Foundation for American art is dedicated to promoting the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of historical visual art of the United States. With financial resources of approximately $300 million and an exceptional collection of American art from the colonial era to 1945, it is one of the world's leading foundations focused on American art. The Terra Foundation devotes approximately $9 million annually in support of American art exhibitions, projects, and research around the world, as well as of the Musée d'Art Américain Giverny. Through its multi-year, Chicago-wide American Art American City initiative, the Terra Foundation for American Art is providing approximately $2.5 million in grants and programs in Chicago, as well as $500,000 in promotional support for grantees and non-grantees alike. For additional information, please visit the foundation's website at terraamericanart.org.


About the Loyola University Museum of Art

The Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), opened in October 2005, is dedicated to the exploration, promotion, and interpretation of art and artistic expression that attempts to illuminate the enduring spiritual questions and concerns of all cultures and societies. With interest in education and educational programming, LUMA reflects Loyola University Chicago's Jesuit mission and is dedicated to helping people of all creeds explore the roots of their faiths and spiritual quests. Loyola University Museum of Art is located at Loyola University Chicago's Water Tower Campus, 820 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. The museum occupies the main floor (street level), second, and third floors of the University's historic Lewis Towers. For hours and admission fees please see the Museum's website. 

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