Art in the National Parks: Exploring the Roles of Landscape Artists as Preservation Advocates

Mentor: Joe Lucchesi

Abstract: This art historical St. Mary’s Project explores the changing ideas of land preservation that have been incorporated into the work of artists connected with the U.S. National Park Service (NPS). The SMP studies the artists’ involvement with the U.S. National Parks ranging from the parks’ inception to the present day. The emphasis of the SMP will be placed on the contemporary artists working within individual U.S. National Park artist in residence programs. This contemporary study serves to anchor the historic artists who also worked in the NPS. The SMP explores the evolving portrayals of ecological restoration and its importance in preserving land through visual representation. With an understanding of these artists’ intentions and commissions concerning the NPS, I then pose the question: how can these artists be considered advocates as environmental stewards and how does their art serve their stewardship goals?