America in View was inspired by a generous gift of photographs to the RISD Museum from the collection of the late Joe Deal (RISD Provost 1999–2005 and Photography Professor 2005–2009) and his wife Betsy Ruppa. In addition to selections from this gift, this exhibition includes photographs by many friends and colleagues given in honor of Deal’s retirement as well as other recent gifts, which contribute to the Museum’s new strength in American landscape photography.
The exhibition was organized by Jan Howard, the RISD Museum’s Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, in association with Deborah Bright, Professor of Photography and History of Art + Visual Culture at RISD, 1989–2012, and Douglas Nickel, Andrea V. Rosenthal Professor of Modern Art at Brown University, with the assistance of Scott Alario, MFA student in Photography at RISD, and Emily Handlin, PhD student in History of Photography at Brown.
America in View: Landscape Photography 1865 to Now offers a history of photographs of the American landscape primarily through the collection of the RISD Museum. The ever-evolving definition of landscape photography encompasses everything from seemingly pristine vistas captured with 19th century view cameras to the decaying urban streets composed today from Google Street View. The RISD Museum’s collection of American landscape photography begins at the end of the Civil War in 1865, when photographers traveled west with government survey teams and railroad companies to record the country’s extraordinary natural features and resources. Ever since, landscape has remained a compelling subject for photographers, who have revealed through their images this country’s ambition and failings, beauty and degradation, politics and personal stories.
In this gallery you will find a variety of approaches to contemporary landscape photography. In the larger gallery, a chronological display takes us from the earliest images of dramatic wilderness through numerous shifts of style and context into the 21st century.
America in View was inspired by a generous gift of photographs to the RISD Museum from the collection of the late Joe Deal (RISD Provost 1999–2005; Professor of Photography, 2005-2009) and his widow, Betsy Ruppa, as well as gifts from friends and colleagues in Deal’s honor.