Visions Of Landscape

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Photography students studied landscape traditions from 17th C. paintings to modern photography to understand ways that cultures frame ideas and ideals of landscape. They researched student exhibitions from Australia to plan a school exhibition. On a field trip to the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge they composed images that explored their own definitions and perspactives of framing landscape. They titled their exhibition: "[re}Defining Landscape" to reflect the many ways we use, abuse, and understand the landscapes around us.

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Visions Of Landscape

  1. 1. Visions of Landscape Photography students from Palo Alto High School researched the wetlands of their local San Francisco Bay Area National Wildlife Refuge and Wonga Wetlands in NSW. Inspired by outdoor education at Gibberagong and Birragai in NSW, they visited their local refuge and took photographs of Nature after exploring cultural definitions of Landscape. They studied models of student photography exhibitions at Xavier High School in NSW, and the the Len Brookman VCE Art Awards catalog from the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. As a class they designed an exhibition of Landscape photography titled, [re]Defining Landscape , at the Viking Gallery and a website to share their gallery of Nature images on the school’s Internet website.
  2. 2. Models for Envisioning the Land Outdoor Education Centers in NSW served as models for teaching students environmental concepts in local natural habitats. Gibberagong director Bruce Foott uses the Earth Education model incorporating; cycling, adaptation, change & interrelationships to inspire students to become caring stewards of their local community resources. www.gibberagon-e.schools.nsw.edu.au Nick Johnson, director of the Birragai Outdoor Education Center in Canberra, notes that land experience inspires a commitment from students to adapt sustainable practices. Environmental education is a required part of the National Curriculum in Australia. www.birrigai.act.edu.au
  3. 3. Creating an Inspiring Environment I assembled a display of visual resources showing different perspectives of Landscape Photography from US and Australian sources to engage student interest. NY Times article January 26, 2006 by Randy Kennedy “California Dreaming on Such a Winter’s Day” Len Brockman VCE Arts Awards Catalog from the Ballarat Fine Arts Gallery Student artworks from Victoria served as a model for community exhibition and unconventional approaches to Landscape photography. Bay Nature magazine [April 2001] Bay Area landscape photography by Bob Walker exemplified the traditional approach to Landscape photography in regional examples. Excerpts from the textbook Photography as Contemporary Art with assigned sections on alternative approaches to Landscape Photography for student reading. Capturing Light: Masterpieces of CA Photography 1851- to present published by the Oakland Museum of California Picturing California - images of wilderness and urban landscapes from Chronicle Books. Steve Parrish’s How to Photograph Australia Kakadu National Park Visitor Guide CSIRO Heartlands brochure
  4. 4. Traditional Perspectives Students used brochures from the Ian Potter Center exhibition of The Altered Land to study where traditional Western perspectives of Landscape come from. The brochure illustrates 200 years of Landscape images in paintings and photographs. Paintings are compared to contemporary photographs of the same locations in Australia. http:// www.ngv.vic.gov.au/alteredland /
  5. 5. A Tale of Two Wetlands Students read, and researched their regional wetlands at the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. They went on a class field trip to the refuge to photograph traditional images of landscape. www.fws.gov/desfbay / They also read about a similar habitat half a world away at the Wonga Wetlands in NSW. They visited websites for both wetlands habitats to understand the global importance of land preservation and watersheds worldwide. www.wongawetlands.nsw.gov.au/intro.htm Through Internet research, textbook readings, and outdoor education experiences, students were took on the task of developing a personal definition of Landscape to explore through the lens of their camera and frame in photographs for a school exhibition.
  6. 6. Getting Out There Students took a field trip to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, just a 15 minute drive across the bay from our school. The refuge, established in 1974 is considered a "wildlife island in an urban sea." Outdoor education starts with getting to know local resources as part of our community. Salt marshes are one of the most productive habitats on Earth. The refuge is located in a central salt pond habitat on the southern shore of SF Bay. www.fws.gov/desfbay/AboutSF.htm Students read about the historic salt marsh preservation project at the Visitor Center. They learned about the habitat of salt marshes, mudflats, vernal pools, and uplands habitat, then went outside for an afternoon of framing their ideas of landscape based on personal contact with this unique habitat.
  7. 7. Examining Perspectives Students were asked to examine the cultural use of land and American perspectives of Nature. The refuge is bordered by a concrete factory and the toll crossing of the sixth and most southernly bridge across the SF Bay. Nick and Talia take some time to realize a key aspect of the California perspective on Nature: relaxation and enjoyment .
  8. 8. Looking Carefully During the field study of landscape at the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge, students were directed to look carefully at both the details and the bigger picture of the environment along the Bay wetlands. Brianna focuses on the smaller details of landscape, using a tripod to study and frame some of the native flora along the refuge trails. Nick composes looking at the bigger picture of the vista of the San Francisco Bay across the salt marsh.
  9. 9. Community Coastal Connections Students had the opportunity to participate in an extra credit assignment for their Landscape Projects by attending the California Coastal Clean-Up on September 16, 2006. Regional parks, including Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge coordinated volunteers to help clean-up coastal areas to preserve habitat for area birds and native plants. Dates for the annual Coastal Clean-up and resources for watershed curriculum can be found at: http://www.coastal.ca.gov/publiced/ccd/ccd.html California Coastal Commission Clean-Up Day “ On this day, 50,000 volunteers turn out to over 700 cleanup sites statewide to conduct what has been hailed by the Guinness Book of World Records as ‘the largest garbage collection’ (1993). Since the program started in 1985, nearly 700,000 Californians have removed more than 10 million pounds of debris from our state's shorelines and coast. Most of the marine debris that we find on our beaches actually starts as urban trash or street litter, so this continuing effort to ‘stop trash where it starts’ has actually increased the amount of trash picked up per person each year. ”
  10. 10. Exhibition Models from Down Under Each year the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery sponsors a student art exhibition with a professional catalog. www.balgal.com/?id=nextgenerationvceawa Advanced Photo students researched student artworks from the Len Brookman VCE Art Awards Catalog to gather ideas about photographic compositions, artist statements, and gallery design for an art exhibition on Landscape Photography for our campus. They also viewed photographs of a student exhibition on Landscape designed by a Photography class at Xavier High School in NSW that wrapped around the Fine Arts building walls. http://www.xh.wagga.catholic.edu.au/
  11. 11. A Tale of Two Artists Visual Research on Lorna Simpson and Robert Owen They watch a video explaining New York artist Lorna Simpson approach to landscape photography for their research about ideas and practices of gallery exhibition. Simpson explains how she worked out visual ideas using images like Central Park and cars or buildings in urban landscapes. The 15-minute video is free at the Annenburg Collection website: http:// learner.org/view_programs/view.programs.html Australian artist Robert Owen explains the visual relationship between his tromp ‘le oeil photo-etching of a window landscape and the sculptural pieces on the floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. The video, with clips from 8 artists, is free for teachers from the MCA Artist’s Voice series: http://www.mca.com.au/default.asp?page_id=79 Students studied artworks of American and Australian artists to gather ideas about framing meaning in their landscape images, and learn about the possibilities and challenges of creating a gallery exhibition about Nature.
  12. 12. VCE Artworks as Model Students compare pages from the Len Brockman VCE Art Awards 2005 catalog for ideas on presentation of their photographs, and information for their artist statements about their approach and perspective to landscape photography. The VCE catalog was a powerful visual model for gallery information and presentation. They reviewed and evaluated examples from the catalog to hone their perspective of gallery aesthetics.
  13. 13. Defining the Interior Landscape Students had to decide how to use the space of the empty Viking Gallery in the Art Building for an exhibition. They collaborated to designate areas for each artist, and had to arrange and design podiums and entryway to engage viewers.
  14. 14. Creating the Landscape Within After researching artists and exhibition models, students shared their ideas about how to design an exhibition space to showcase their own definitions of landscape, as well as engage viewer response to the diversity of ideas about Nature. Hannah, Ali, Allison and Catherine string leaves together for the entry design. They spent class time reviewing their “best” prints and deciding how to mount and exhibit their Landscape photographs. Students divided into groups to design all the aspects of a gallery space. Winnie and Christine arranged the podiums in the gallery space to engage viewers to respond to definitions of Landscape.
  15. 15. Gallery Set-Up and Design The class shared responsibilities for hanging artworks, designating gallery space, and designing the signage for the gallery. Based on the VCE model, they composed title cards for each piece and wrote artists statements to post with their section of artworks. Hillary and Nora help Brianna mount her triptych in a section of artworks she titled More Than Just Trees , while Cate posts her titles and arranges her artist statement in the section that she selected for her photographs.
  16. 16. Creating an Environmental Identity As part of their exhibition design, students composed a portrait of themselves with their artwork. Hannah included commercial images collaged on her photograph of a Coke machine at the refuge and arranged a Coke can with leaves surrounding her display to reflect her critique of how we treat Nature in American culture. Melanie faces the camera framed by her photographs of traditional landscapes in striking colors.
  17. 17. In Invitation to Look Winnie arranges leaves, scientific specimens of birds, and stuffed animals around the podiums with her photographs. She and Christine arranged a combination of real and artificial Nature to challenge viewers to examine how we see and treat the natural world. Toy birds represent how we treat Nature as our toy while the specimens represent what we do to other living creatures in our pursuit of our studies of Nature.
  18. 18. Entry au Natural I made a Nature collage and typed up an introduction to the exhibition to give viewers the background on the Fulbright project and outdoor education. I explained that students had to evolve a definition of Landscape and invited viewers to read artists statements and reflect on their own definitions of Landscape. We decorated the windowsill with ferns and leaves to create an inviting entryway.
  19. 19. We set up a table of books and references from the classroom display board to share with our audience. Allen downloaded this Powerpoint presentation onto a laptop for viewing in the gallery. He also downloaded the Portraits of Landscape of students with their artworks and artist statements. Sharing Resources
  20. 20. We planned a gallery Opening Night Reception for the week after set-up and sent out invitations for parents and staff to attend. The Exhibition titled [re]Defining Landscape was held in the Viking Gallery for a month through October-November 2006. Opening Night
  21. 21. References and Resources <ul><li>Ian Potter Gallery - National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne </li></ul><ul><li>Exhibition brochure: The Altered Land http:// www.ngv.vic.gov.au/alteredland / </li></ul><ul><li>Len Brockman VCE Arts Awards 2005 Catalog from the Ballarat Fine Arts Gallery www.balgal.com </li></ul><ul><li>Student artworks from Victoria’s annual VCE Student Art Exhibition compiled in an exhibition catalog, served as a model for our gallery exhibition. </li></ul><ul><li>Bay Nature magazine www.baynature.com </li></ul><ul><li>April-June 2001 issue of Bay Area Landscape photography by Bob Walker </li></ul><ul><li>The Photograph as Contemporary Art Charlotte Cotton Thames & Hudson </li></ul><ul><li>World of Art series 2004 ISBN 0-500-20380-6 </li></ul><ul><li>Capturing Light: Masterpieces of California Photography </li></ul><ul><li>Oakland Museum of California, 2001 ISBN 0-393-04993-0 </li></ul><ul><li>California Coastal Commission sponsors annual Clean-Up days and publishes education curriculum on-line. The guidebook: Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.coastal.ca.gov/publiced/waves/waves1.html </li></ul>
  22. 22. Lorna Simpson video clip from the Annenburg Foundation Art resources: http://www.learner.org/resources/series64.html Teachers can access free video clips on a full range of subjects at the Anneburg Foundation website at: http:// learner.org/view_programs/view.programs.html Robert Owen video clip from the Museum of Modern Art in Sydney MCA Artists Voices series DVD from the Museum of Modern Art in Sydney, Australia is free to teachers on request: http:// www.mca.com.au/default.asp?page_id =79 Video Resources Special thanks to Fulbright-Australia for making this exploration possible http://www.fulbright.com.au/events-and-media/curriculum-projects.html

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