INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – Beginning May 11 and continuing through August 3, photographs exploring the natural world by internationally renowned photographers will be on view at the IMA to celebrate The Nature Conservancy’s 50th anniversary.
“: Photographs from The Nature Conservancy’s Last Great Places” features 130 works that explore lands protected by the Conservancy throughout the United States and around the world.
Twelve photographers of established reputation were invited to select places the Conservancy helps protect and record their responses to those places on film. The exhibition’s range of styles, from landscape photography to portraiture and photojournalism, illustrates the rich and complex splendor of these places, as well as the diversity of artists represented.
The featured artists include those who are famous for their landscape photographs, such as Terry Evans and Richard Misrach, those who have achieved wide followings for their portraiture, such as Annie Leibovitz and William Wegman, and those who are best known for their work on the cutting edge of the art world, such as Sally Mann and Lee Friedlander.
The artists chose sites ranging in character from the red-rock plateaus of Utah and the forests of New York to the coral reefs of Indonesia. Some focused on plant and animal life and others on the people who live in and around these areas. Some made one trip and others chose to revisit the selected site over several seasons. Yet all of the participants produced images that express passionate feelings about the natural world.
William Christenberry and Friedlander, for example, focused on the landscape. At Alabama’s Bibb County Glades and Cahaba River, Christenberry found himself photographing the first pure landscapes of his career. Friedlander’s work along the San Pedro River in Arizona explores the diversity of plants growing in the vicinity of the river. Each of their interpretations unveils the hidden beauty of these biologically important places and demonstrates the importance of the Conservancy’s goal of preserving ecologically functioning landscapes.
Mary Ellen Mark and Fazal Sheikh, on the other hand, concentrated on portraiture. Mark’s images from two isolated coastal settlements on opposite ends of the United States, and Sheikh’s portraits of the faces and hands of landless people living in and near a national park in Brazil, are reminders of the human face of conservation. In so doing, the photographs suggest that the beauty of nature and the reality of human presence are not necessarily antithetical, and therein reflect the Conservancy’s collaborative and participatory approach to conservation.
This exhibition is presented at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in memory of Daniel Efroymson, a great friend of the IMA and The Nature Conservancy.
Accompanying the exhibition is a 160-page, fully illustrated book featuring essays and statements by the artists. The hardcover book retails for $60 and paperback for $35.
Admission is free. Admission to Lilly House, the restored Oldfields estate mansion, is $5. For information, 317-920-2660 or www.ima-art.org.