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Thomas Hart Benton, Cradling Wheat, 1928. Museum purchase, 1969.15.


Topographies: Changing Conceptions of the American Landscape 

October 8­ – December 11, 2021

Opening reception: Friday, October 8, 5-7 pm


Organized by Tom McDonough, Adjunct Curator and Associate Professor of Art History, and co-curated by Clarissa Agate ’22, Shannon Doherty ’21, Sofia Fahsi ’22 and Luke McNamara ’22.

This exhibition explores the shifting artistic representation of national geographies and environments from the late 18th through the 21st century. Outstanding works on loan from Art Bridges will provide thematic foci supported by art drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection. These themes include:

American Pastorals – what aspects of national identity have been served by a bucolic, idyllic image of the American landscape? what do such images mask or leave out, and why?

Abundance and Abandonment – what role does a vital, organicist representation of nature play in pictures of the American landscape? how do such representations intersect with shifting scientific and environmental understandings of nature?

Extract, Exploit, Extol – how have extractive industries, and more broadly the perception of the landscape as a source of national wealth, impacted the artistic imagination?

Bodies and Landscapes – how has the land shaped the bodies who inhabit it and how has it been, in turn, shaped by them? what traces do our bodies leave behind?

By bringing together exceptional artworks from these two collections, “Topographies” will provide its audiences with an opportunity to engage with urgent questions of national identities, homeland, ecology and history. Looking back over a century of creation, it asks us to consider how art—and image-making more broadly—has shaped our perceptions of landscape and of our belonging in the landscape.

The Binghamton University Art Museum acknowledges the generous assistance of the following individuals and organizations which made this exhibition possible: Art Bridges; Mark Dion, courtesy of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery; the Estate of Ana Mendieta, courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.; Roberson Museum & Science Center and The Vestal Museum. For details on upcoming programming see our Events page + social media. 



Last Updated: 10/19/21