Princeton University Art Museum
Reframing more than 300 years of diverse artistic practice in North America, from the colonial period to the present, Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment examines for the first time how American artists have both reflected and shaped environmental understanding while contributing to the emergence of a modern ecological consciousness.
The exhibition traces evolving ideas about the environment – and our place within it – from colonial beliefs about natural theology and biblical dominion through the 19th-century notion of manifest destiny to the emergence of modern ecological ethics. This pioneering exhibition will gather over 100 works of art by a broad range of artists – including iconic masterpieces as well as rare and seldom exhibited works – and interpret them through an interdisciplinary lens that unites art and environmental history with scientific analysis, using ecocriticism as a tool to see the history of American art in a new light.
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 and 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).
Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment has been made possible with leadership support from Shelly Malkin, Class of 1986, and Tony Malkin; Annette Merle-Smith; the Henry Luce Foundation; the Princeton Environmental Institute; and the Barr Ferree Foundation Fund for Publications, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University. Generous support has been provided by the Humanities Council, the Dean for Research Innovation Fund, and the Humanities Council’s David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Grant, Princeton University; and the National Endowment for the Arts. Further support has been provided by Susan and John Diekman, Class of 1965; the Kathleen C. Sherrerd Program Fund for American Art; Stacey Roth Goergen, Class of 1990, and Robert B. Goergen; the High Meadows Foundation Sustainability Fund; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; and the Partners and Friends of the Princeton University Art Museum.