Art and Landscape Symposium

Valuing the Aesthetics of Nature: The Role of the Visual Artist in the American Conservation Movement

Dates: August 3 to 4, 2017

Location: Colby College, Waterville, Maine

art and lanscape symposium

Frederic Edwin Church (United States, 1826–1900), Mount Katahdin from Millinocket Camp, 1895, oil on canvas, 26 1/2 x 42 1/4 inches. Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Gift of Owen W. and Anna H. Wells in memory of Elizabeth B. Noyce, 1998.96. Image courtesy Luc Demers

Event Overview:  A two-day symposium exploring the critical role that 19th and 20th century visual artists played in the American conservation movement, and considering how their work can inform land conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts, art lovers, and policymakers in addressing contemporary pressures on the American landscape. The symposium will be followed by optional field trips (August 5 & 6) to three iconic Maine regions where some of America’s most influential artists worked—Katahdin, Acadia, and Monhegan.

Learn from experts on Adams, Bierstadt, Church, Cole, Hartley, O’Keeffe, Olmsted, Watkins and others how artists created landscape images for Americans who had never and might never experience them directly. Nationally-recognized scholars in art, history, American studies and law will relate how artists helped policy-makers embrace a land protection ethic based on the aesthetic values of nature that played an essential role in the creation of our national and state parks. Presentations on contemporary artists in Maine and national parks with a thematic focus on the arts will also be included.

The symposium will precede “Views from the Maine Woods”, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s biennial conference ( This week-long event includes over 240 hikes, numerous workshops, and excursions, some of which will relate to aesthetics, art and photography.

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