Through the magic of videoconferencing technology we continue to hold discussions with educators across the country about how to creatively use the Carter’s artworks in their classrooms long after an exhibition has been removed from the galleries. This week the 2007 photography exhibition With New Eyes: Exploration and the American West inspired a professional development broadcast that served teachers from Brock to Cotulla. This program explored photographs of four nineteenth-century U.S. government surveys, and while the missions of these surveys and the resulting images are fascinating, what really intrigues me is that the images were even made in the first place.
Most of the expedition photographers created albumen silver prints (like Carleton Watkins’ Commencement of the Whitney Glacier, Summit of Mt. Shasta above) using the wet plate collodion process. The glass plates had to be prepared, the plate exposed, and the image developed---all while the plate was still wet. Watch a contemporary photographer demonstrate the process, and think about how challenging it would have been for Watkins to create his Mt. Shasta image. In fact, Watkins---who was already a veteran of expeditions through California and acclaimed for his mammoth-plate photographs of Yosemite by the time he joined Clarence King’s U.S. Geological Survey of the Fortieth Parallel---prepared a special enclosed wagon as a mobile darkroom to augment his technical facility during the arduous trek. If the process alone wasn’t difficult enough, imagine for a moment carrying around all of your glass plate negatives and all of your photographic supplies over rough, rocky terrain.
Sometimes you can even see evidence of the process in the finished prints. Look closely at Watkins’ The Shasta Buttes below. The hazy gap in the center of the photograph is the product of an uneven application of collodion.
The next time you take a picture on your digital camera or cell phone, tip your hat to those nineteenth-century photographers who needed more than a split second to compose their awe-inspiring views!
This time our photo of the week comes from the Carter's vast Eliot Porter collection. Because we have Porter's entire archive and he so diligently organized his work, we can pinpoint exactly what day he shot most of his photographs. I think we probably have at least one - and probably many more - photograph for every day of the year.
The following photo was taken on this day during Porter's 1966 expedition to the Galapagos Islands.
Eliot Porter, Fur Seal, Alcedo Camp on Isabela Island, GalÃ¡pagos Islands, May 6, 1966, dye imbibition print, bequest of the artist, ©1990 Amon Carter Museum
Just a reminder that our current special exhibition, Barbara Crane: Challenging Vision, closes this coming Sunday, May 10, to make room for our next special exhibition of works on paper from the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African-American Art.
It is hard to believe that it was almost seven years ago that I began my internship in the Education Department at the Amon Carter Museum. I was both excited and honored to be behind the scenes at a museum whose collection and programs I had long admired. A few months later, I felt like I won the lottery when I was actually offered a full-time, paid position in the deparment. Since that time, I have had the privilege of sharing the Carter’s collection with a wide variety of audiences– tours for tots, observation programs for osteopaths, lectures for learners, fun-activities for families, and you–and have loved (almost) every minute of it.
So, as you can imagine, it is with great sadness that I say today is my last day. I am leaving the museum to spend more time with my growing family–the most precious artwork I have ever seen.
Thank you for letting me share some of my experiences with you.
Today's Photo of the Week post is inspired by my upcoming trip to see friends in Galveston this weekend. The following images of Galveston from the Carter's collection are all by Stuart Klipper, a Minneapolis-based photographer known for panoramic landscapes.
Stuart Klipper, VFW Post, 24th Street, Galveston, dye coupler print
Stuart Klipper, Box Car, off Port Industrial Boulevard, Port of Galveston, dye coupler print
Stuart Klipper, Beth Jacob Synagogue, Galveston, dye coupler print
All works are a Gift of the Texas Historical Foundation with support from a major grant from the DuPont Company and Conoco, its energy subsidiary, and assistance from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, © 1984 Stuart Klipper
Art and artists have played important roles in shaping awareness of the environment and the landscape in the United States. In the nineteenth-century, landscape paintings by Hudson River School artists illustrated and inspired our country’s desire to cherish, revel in, and use the environment. While in the twentieth century, art and the environmental movement became linked in defining wilderness and the politics of preserving it.
If you are interested in learning more about the many connections between artists and the environment, join us at 11 a.m. this Saturday for the special lecture, Land and Liberty: Environmentalism in American Art. During this free program, Dr. Todd Kerstetter, associate professor of history at Texas Christian University, will use works in the Carter's permanent collection of painting and photographs to illustrate the development of environmental thought from the 1830s through the twentieth-century environmental movement.
This second installment of Photo of the Week celebrates Earth Day with photographs by two major American landscape photographers, Frank Gohlke and Robert Glenn Ketchum. Both have recently had exhibitions at the Carter featuring works that deal with environmental issues.
Frank Gohlke, Tire, the Sudbury River, Framingham, Massachusetts, September 1991, dye coupler print, © Frank Gohlke
Robert Glenn Ketchum, "I Like the Look of a Clearcut..." Attributed to a Forest Supervisor at a Public Meeting, dye destruction print, Gift of Advocacy Arts Foundation, © 1986 Robert Glenn Ketchum
There are some good ideas for reducing your environmental footprint over at EarthDay.Gov and a timeline of environmental progress since the first Earth Day in 1970 on the EPA website. If you don't like the look of a clearcut, do something nice for the environment today.
Two colleagues just popped by my office to tell me to run upstairs and see the new painting entitled Home by the Lake, 1852 by Frederic Church. The painting is on loan from a private collection, and just happened to appear in the museum’s blue galleries today!
In its current location, the painting is part of a trio of artworks (another by Church and one by Church’s teacher Thomas Cole) that show settlers settling in the great American wilderness– cozy log cabin on lakeside property with mountain views included.
The label copy informs us that a nineteenth-century critic referred to this painting as “a charming little poem in itself.” Will you twenty-first century critics agree? Stop by the museum sometime soon and take a look for yourself.