In Nature's Temple: Early California Art and Ecology
William Keith, Eadweard Muybridge, Carleton Watkins and John Muir
August 26–December 13, 2013
Conversation with Curator Thomas Lucas, SJ and Writer, Historian and USF Alumnus Kevin Starr
Monday, October 7, 2:30-3:30, McLaren 250
Reception to follow in the Gallery
Guided Tours, Thursdays at noon:
September 5, 19, October 3, 17, 24, November 7, 21, December 5
Thursday, September 12, noon-1 p.m. – Thacher Thursdays: Creature Comforts – Animal Habitats created by USF fine arts students
Thursday, September 26, noon-1 p.m. – Final Thursday Chamber Music with USF’s Chamber Ensemble class
Thursday, September 26, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Maraschi Room, Fromm Hall – “Earthly Hermeneutics: Interpretation from the Ground Up” by Brian Treanor, Loyola Marymount University, Plenary Session for the Pacific Tradition for the Continental Tradition (PACT) Conference, a reception will follow in the gallery
Thursday, October 10, noon-1 p.m. – Thacher Thursday: Nature Walk led by the USF Wellness Program
Thursday, October 31, noon-1 p.m. – Final Thursday Chamber Music with USF’s Chamber Ensemble class
Wednesday, November 13, 5-6 p.m., Maraschi Room, Fromm Hall – Literary Reading featuring works responding to “In Nature’s Temple” by USF faculty, staff and students
Thursday, November 14, noon-1 p.m. – Thacher Thursday: Broadside Exchange featuring USF creative writing and design students
Thursday, December 12, noon-1 p.m. –Thursday Thursday:
to be announced
*located in the gallery unless otherwise stated
Curated by Thomas Lucas, SJ, Director Emeritus
“In Nature’s Temple: Early California Art & Ecology” presents the ideas of John Muir alongside the works of three California art icons—painter William Keith and photographers Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge—to examine Yosemite’s place in the American art and environmental movements.
After recovering from an eye injury caused while working in a Wisconsin factory, John Muir fulfilled his dream to move west, quickly becoming the proto-evangelist of the nature conservation movements. He visited Yosemite Valley for the first time in 1868, writing, “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.” Living in the valley for extended periods of time, he encountered landscape painter William Keith and inventor-photographers Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge. Meanwhile, with the admission of California to the Union in 1850, the Yosemite Valley received national attention.
During treks with Watkins and Keith, Muir wrote extensively about the spiritual power of the forests and cliffs. Keith’s paintings illustrated the natural wonders that inspired Muir’s writings while adding the rugged western terrain to the body of the Hudson River School of painting, which in the 1830’s presented idealized pastoral images of the Eastern landscape that strongly contrasted the effects of industrialization. Stereoviews by Watkins and Muybridge brought Yosemite to the masses; their mammoth-sized photographs established the large-format used for documenting vast landscapes through the 20th century. On the conservation front, the combined work of Watkins and Muir helped make a case for what would become the National Park Service, while the frequent conversations between Keith and Muir set the foundation for the Sierra Club. Together, the innovative work of these four men planted the seeds of the early conservation movement that eventually flowered into major environmental establishments that flourish today.
The Thacher Gallery at USF gratefully acknowledges the following for their loans and assistance: Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art, the California Historical Society, the California State Library, the Society of California Pioneers, USF’s Donohue Rare Book Room, Denny and Peggy Kruska and Dr. Kevin Starr.
In November, USF writers responded to the artworks in "In Nature's Temple" and then worked with student designers to create a series of Broadsides as well as a Chapbook. You can view them and print your own copies here.