Diving into nature won’t be difficult while walking through two upcoming concurrent exhibitions at Heckscher Museum—Earth Muse: Art and the Environment and Thaddeus Holownia: Walden Revisited. The first features aerial shots of Long Island coastlines by Alex Ferrone and Winn Rea’s topographical images of the Adirondacks among other photographs. The second will transport viewers to Walden Pond in Massachusetts with a powerful installation.
“It will be very immersive; you’ll be surrounded by all of these monumental photographs and you will feel like you are at Walden Pond,” said curator Lisa Chalif.
Both exhibitions (open on April 15, 2017 through July 30 2017) were inspired by Thaddeus Holownia’s Walden Revisited, which pays homage to American icon Henry David Thoreau. The latter lived in a one-room cabin in Walden Pond in Concord, Mass. between 1845 and 1847 as part of an “experiment in simple living.” He eventually wrote the memoir Walden; or, Life in the Woods (released in 1854) detailing his experience of living so close to nature. Holownia himself spent much time in Walden Pond in the early 2000s to capture the serenity that enthralled Thoreau and inspired his appreciation for nature more than 100 years prior. It led to Twenty-Four Tree Studies for Henry David Thoreau, vertical images capturing portraits of trees in Walden Pond.
Earth Muse: Art and the Environment plays off this love for nature with artists (many from Long Island) who view our diverse planet as their muse. For example artist Barbara Roux, who has three photos in the exhibition, became fascinated with nature at a young age while growing up on Long Island and spending time among the wilderness. Her work aims to capture suburbanization, loss of wildlife and environmental pollution. Peter Beard, a veteran artist popular for showing the devastating loss of wildlife in Africa, is another whose work brings attention to human impact on nature.
“[These artists] approach nature the same way that Thoreau and Holownia did… but each focuses on something different,” Chalif said. “Each artist has a slightly different approach to the idea of immersing oneself in nature and really seeing nature from a different perspective than what we are accustomed to.”
With the 200th anniversary of Thoreau’s birth this summer and Earth Day on April 22, Chalif couldn’t think of a better time to unveil these exhibitions to Long Islanders. Both Earth Muse: Art and the Environment and Thaddeus Holownia: Walden Revisited tie together to not only bring attention to nature’s beauty, but also the ways in which it’s in danger.
“I don’t think people really necessarily appreciate the beauty and diversity of the natural world and really think about how it’s molded how we live,” she said. “I just want people to be inspired by nature and really come away with an understanding of the crisis of climate change.”
For more on Heckscher Museum make sure to pick up our April issue for an exclusive interview with Executive Director Dr. Michael W. Schantz where he talks about plans for a major expansion.