How the Federal Arts Project Changed American Art, And Why it Might be Time for a Revival
Nature is an unruly place, forever getting in humanity’s way, regularly tamed but regressing back to the feral. As an aesthetic paradigm we admire its majesty, take pleasure in its picturesque and swoon at its beauty, but as a psychological fact, let’s face it; unless you’re Paul Bunyan, Daniel Boone or Johnny Appleseed it can quite rightly scare the shit out of you. And into this wilderness of overgrowth and undergrowth, impossibly daunting scale, tempestuous elements, natural predators and truly rugged discomforts, Americans have forged not simply a viable negotiation of space and a culture of refuge but a national identity that is in seemingly equal parts as much an ongoing myth of our frontier heritage and an aspirational self-perception of our Eurocentric course of civilization. How, one wonders, in this miasma of collective delusions and the arrogance of our manifest destiny, were we ever able to see the forest from the trees?
July 16, 2015