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Living Landscape: Art with a Historical Perspective

Posted November 15, 2013 in Events

Many of us hear the word “history” and think of an endless parade of names, dates, and facts that go in one ear and right out the other. That’s why experiences like Living Landscape, a collaboration between GRAM and KCAD that’s happening right now, are so important: they make history interactive, allowing us to see historical context as a gateway to discovery rather than a burden.

“So many of the pieces in Masterpieces of American Landscape Painting are what you might call personal collaborations,” said Christopher Bruce, KCAD alumni and School Programs Coordinator at GRAM. “We’re looking at an artist’s interpretation of what an idealized landscape is. They would go out into nature and they would sketch, but they would sketch many different landscapes and then pick and choose elements form each that they felt would make a more aesthetically pleasing composition. In actuality, those elements could have each been miles apart.”

Right now at the GRAM, valuable historical insights like this are in abundance, as KCAD students are periodically giving short, informative presentations on topics like representations of Native Americans in art, the impact of the Civil War on landscape painting, and the concept of the fading frontier.

KCAD student Brooke Bennet presenting

“The average person walking in off the street may not have any experiences with the background of the exhibition, so partnering with KCAD and having the students provide historical context creates another entry point for someone to step into the space and experience what we have going on,” said Bruce.

KCAD student Valerie Goniwiecha presenting

Speaking of entry points, the coolest way to enter the GRAM is currently through the Betz Studio, (a.k.a. ice skate rental headquarters for Rosa Parks Circle) where the most interactive component of Living Landscape beckons each passerby to stop in and participate. Inside, a bevy of recycled materials sit waiting for visitors to attach them to the evolving “landscape” on one of the studio’s walls.

Constructing the Living Landscape

“We’re asking the public at-large to create their idealized landscape, so anyone who comes in during the run of this experience can create their own small part of that landscape, and you only get to see it in its entirety at the end once everyone has had their voice recognized,” said Bruce.

Constructing the Living Landscape

Living Landscape runs until midnight tonight, and will run tomorrow from 10 am to midnight. So far, Bruce says, the concept is working well. Museum members and passersby alike have been stopping in in droves to see what all the fuss is about, and they’re leaving with a better sense of the way the historical lens can impact the act of viewing art.

Sounds better than reading that encyclopedia-sized textbook of yours, doesn’t it? It is. Get on down to the GRAM and experience it for yourself, for free.

For the full schedule of student presentations, visit artmuseumgr.org/livinglandscape.


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