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Visions for the Next Millennium: Wilderness Photography

December 8, 2004 - January 29, 2005

 

"Wilderness, to me, is a spiritual necessity.

When my son was killed by a drunk driver it was to the wilderness

that I fled in hopes of regaining my serenity and equilibrium.

The mysterious spiritual experience of being close to nature helped restore

my soul. It was during that time, I discovered the intimate beauty of nature.

My experience reinforced my sense of dedication to use my art form of

photography as an inspiration for others to work together

to save nature's places of spiritual sanctuary for future generations."

-- Clyde Butcher

Photographer Clyde Butcher's Visions for the Next Millennium: Wilderness Photography will be on view through January 29, 2005 in the Main Gallery of the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College.

Butcher's large format black and white photographs explore his personal relationship with the environment. The photographs chronicle some of America's most beautiful and complex ecosystems. The exquisite beauty and depth of his work draw the viewer into a relationship with nature. For more than 35 years, he has been preserving on film the untouched areas of the landscape. His images are captured with a large format camera that allows him to express the elaborate detail and textures that distinguish the intricacy of the landscape. The 37 large format photographs in this exhibition range in size from 36 x 46 inches to seven feet by eight feet. (right: Gannet Strand, Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida, 1995, black and white photograph. Courtesy of Venice Gallery and Studio)

Butcher, himself, has articulated his passion for and dedication to his natural and wild subjects as follows. "Wilderness, to me, is a spiritual necessity. When my son was killed by a drunk driver it was to the wilderness that I fled in hopes of regaining my serenity and equilibrium. The mysterious spiritual experience of being close to nature helped restore my soul. It was during that time, I discovered the intimate beauty of nature. My experience reinforced my sense of dedication to use my art form of photography as an inspiration for others to work together to save nature's places of spiritual sanctuary for future generations."

Butcher has recently been honored with Florida's Artist Hall of Fame Award for his photographic excellence. He was chosen as Person of the Week on the ABC Peter Jennings evening news program, and has received the Heartland Community Service Award for his work in educating the people of Florida on the beauty of their state. He also has been honored with the Conservation Colleague Award, given to him by the Nature Conservancy. The Sierra Club has honored Butcher with their prestigious Ansel Adams Award to recognize Clyde's use of still photography to further the cause of conservation and his contribution to the public awareness of the environment.

Organized by Butcher himself, the exhibition at Ursinus is part of a 12-city national tour, to be taken over a two-and-a-half year period. The tour was developed and is managed by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services, an exhibition tour development company in Kansas City, MO.

 

Introductory text from the exhibition:

Every century and every millennium is born into a new agenda. Earlier periods of human history have been characterized by basic elements of prosperity: bronze, gold, and steel. In more recent times, we rapidly pushed back frontiers of thought in spurts of human enterprise that define centuries as distinct eras: the 17th Century was an age of exploration, the 18th an age of science, the 19th an age of industry, and the 20th an age of technology.
 
We often hear people describe the coming new age as an Information Age, but without content or connection, information has no use. I believe the coming age has more substance to it than "information". I believe it is the way we choose to use the information that will change our lives, and that choice will determine the future of our world. If we are to survive as a healthy species, we are obliged to go forward into this new age with the preservation and restoration of the environment in the forefront of our thoughts. We must establish an ethic toward the earth that will penetrate the very soul of our existence. Unless we perceive our connection to nature in a deep and personal way, we will face a future of decline instead of sustained prosperity. I believe the motivating force of the future will be the health of our planet for our survival I believe the coming century will be one of the most active ecological centuries human history has ever seen, and that the Ecological Age will begin the momentum that will carry on into the millennium to create a healthy future for all mankind.
 
To bring a land ethic into reality, people with vision from all fields need to come together in a holistic manner to produce a creative momentum which will inspire society to "walk a higher path" and, in so doing, establish a foundation on which future generations can stand. I believe that artists are vessels of inspiration that can convey this message. As an artist, I reach deep within myself in order to express an image which will touch another. Art is an intimate experience. It is with that intimate experience that I believe the artist has the power to transform, and bring a new insight into life.
 
Through their creations, artists have inspired society since the beginning of time. Two of the best known inspirations of our country are Thomas Moran and Ansel Adams. Thomas Moran painted Yellowstone, and it was his artistic vision that enabled Ferdinand Hayden to convince our government to save Yellowstone as our first National Park. Ansel Adams used the power of his vision to bring Yosemite and its beauty into the public eye, strengthening The Sierra Club and the activity of environmentalist to save the beauty of our land. It is because of the power of the artist to touch the emotions of another, that I have encouraged all of my artist friends to become involved in transforming our society to view the earth as a spiritual place for which we are responsible. For my part, I am reaching out with my exhibit; Visions for the Next Millennium, to begin a new era based on an understanding of humanity's profound connection with nature. My images will be presented to the viewers with the goal of helping them see the beauty and sublime order of the natural world, both in great places like the Everglades and the Redwood Forests, as well as in lesser known urban parks and wild places. The images will be presented in sizes ranging from 40" x 60" to 7 'x 12'. The photographs are large because small images become "pictures". Large images require people to experience the place depicted, and see it with new and clearer eyes. I want them to build a personal relationship with the "place", to experience the beauty, power, and wonder of nature. Furthermore, I want to show people that there is a unity between all undisturbed natural places, whether the peak of a renowned mountain range, or a stream-bed in an urban watershed. My hope is to educate and inspireto let people know our land is a special place, and the way we take care of it determines the future quality of life for our society.

-- Clyde Butcher


About the artist:

Clyde Butcher is a graduate in architecture from the University of California Polytechnic at San Luis Obispo. His interests in spatial relationships, and presentation of architectural designs, led him into the field of photography. From these early formal interests, he became attracted to the landscape.
 
Mr. Butcher's award winning black and white photographs explore his personal relationship with the environment. For more than thirty-five years, he has been preserving, on film, the untouched areas of the landscape. His images are created using an 8" x 10", 11" x 14", or 12" x 20" view camera. The large format camera allows him to express on film, the elaborate detail and textures that distinguish the landscape. The images range in size from 11" x 14" to 5 'x 8'. They are printed on fiber base paper, and selenium toned for archival preservation.
 
Recent projects include work for the State's "Save Our Rivers" program, the South Florida Water Management District, the D.E.P.; Divisions of State Lands, the Bureau of Submerged Lands and Preserves, Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; The Audubon Society, Everglades National Park, The Nature Conservancy, Rocky Mountain National Park, and The Wilderness Society.
 
Clyde has recently been honored by the state of Florida with the highest award the state can give a private citizen: The Artist Hall of Fame Award. He was also chosen as Person of the Week on the ABC Peter Jennings evening news program, and has received the Heartland Community Service Award for his work educating Floridan's about the beauty of their state. He has also been honored with the Conservation Colleague Award, given to him by The Nature Conservancy. The Sierra Club has awarded him the Ansel Adams Conservation Award, which is given to a photographer who shows excellence in photography and has contributed to the public awareness of the environment.
 
A collection of his work can be seen in his books: Clyde Butcher: Portfolio I, Florida Landscapes --- Limited Edition; Clyde Butcher -- Nature's Places of Spiritual Sanctuary; Clyde Butcher -- Florida Landscapes, Visions for the Next Millennium, and in his biography, Seeing the Light: Wilderness and Salvation, a Photographers Tale. (right: Ochopee, Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida, 1986, black and white photograph. Courtesy of Venice Gallery and Studio)

Rev. 12/21/04

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