Landscape & memory: The untapped power of artists' books to effect social change

by Richards, Camden M., M.A., CORCORAN COLLEGE OF ART + DESIGN, 2011, 60 pages; 1492735


This thesis analyzes the symbiotic relationship between natural landscape and memory, explores the role that it can play in environmental preservation through the vehicle of artists’ books, investigates the power of artists’ books to effect environmental change and chronicles how that power is currently untapped. These various themes are covered in four chapters.

The first chapter addresses the environmental movement and the landscapes that are disappearing quickly around us. Within this chapter there are sections on the history of the environmental movement, a summary of the state of the environment/current environmental issues, and a specific exploration of the Eastern Sierra region. The second chapter explores the relationship between individual and collective memory and land, and includes sections on man’s relationship with nature, the symbiotic relationship between memory and landscape, the role of environmental and memory preservation, and the ultimate importance of the role of individual/collective memory in environmental preservation. The third chapter considers the way that memory is used in environmental/nature writing to effect change. This chapter contains sections on nature and environmental writing, memory as a method of conveying landscape in writing, and environmental writing with illustrations as a method of preserving the land (and thus memory). To illustrate these ideas, the chapter contains a study of three environmental writers using memory and illustration: John Muir, Mary Austin and Gary Snyder. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the effectiveness of environmental writing/illustration to effect change by preserving the land. Chapter Four addresses the role of memory as used in environmental/nature artists’ books in order to effect positive environmental change. Within this chapter, there are sections on the artist’s book as a medium, the differences between environmental/nature writing with illustrations and the artist’s book, and an exploration of different ways in which environmental artists’ books can effect change: advocacy, activism, documentation/observation, and use of materials. The chapter also includes an exploration of why artists’ books are the perfect medium to effect environmental change; and consideration of how artists’ books are currently an untapped resource in doing so.

The thesis concludes with suggestions about why this is, what we can do to change this situation, and a call to action to book artists to endeavor to more actively utilize the power of visual/experiential storytelling through artists’ books as a vehicle and catalyst for effecting environmental change.

AdviserKerry McAleer-Keeler
Source TypeThesis
SubjectsFine arts; Environmental philosophy
Publication Number1492735

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