Capture and Release: Representing Rivers involves multi-faceted study and visual representation of two sites of persistent and pertinent environmental controversies and explores the mutual influence of theory and practice in the studio and political sphere. These politically charged sites, in addition to telling unique and important stories, illustrate parallels between the values that undergird aesthetic appreciation of the natural world and arguments informing environmental policy. Environmental aesthetics, landscape theory, and the practice of landscape painting infuse this investigation of the cognitive, experiential, and imaginative considerations that animate aesthetic appreciation of nature. Aesthetic frameworks for understanding and valuing the natural world, in turn, provide a platform for evaluating the political, cultural, and social forces that similarly inspire the values determining environmental policies. The controversies that ground this interdisciplinary research project will shape the future of two rivers and are steeped in complex histories. One centers on the potential removal of Enloe Dam on the Similkameen River in North Central Washington, the second on climate change driven water supply issues involving Icicle Creek near Leavenworth, Washington. Research into these controversies builds understandings of diverse stakeholders’ positions, which collectively define the values that determine water policies. The scientific, cultural, and pragmatic considerations pertinent to developing such values mirror categories foundational to environmental aesthetics. Ultimately, as a visual artist, I examine and reflect upon how interdisciplinary research affects praxis in the studio, thereby connecting political as well as aesthetic values to artistic production and in this case, to representing rivers.
Values, Environment, Aesthetics, Theory and Praxis
The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Professor, Art and Art History, University of Puget Sound, United States
WA, United States
Professor Elise Richman has exhibited her work nationally in commercial galleries, non-profit spaces, and university galleries. Her paintings are included in privat collections in San Francisco, New York, Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Seattle, as well as The Hallie Ford Museum, King County, the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, City of Tacoma, and University of Puget Sound. Richman was a recipient of the 2014 Greater Tacoma Community Foundation Award, was a finalist for a 2015 Neddy Award, and received a 2014 aand 2017 Davis Teaching Award. Her paintings reference water and its relevance to political and social issues as well as ways in which its physical properties operate on optical and metaphorical levels. She embeds abstract paintings with socially engaged content.