"Leaving Our Mark: An American Landscape" (Photography by Russell Hart)

Leaving our Mark: An American Landscape

Opening reception: Thursday August 17, 5:00 to 9:00pm Exhibit: August 17 to September 15, 2017
At a time of deepening environmental crisis, photographs by Russell Hart explore the human imprint on America’s natural world.
In Leaving Our Mark: An American Landscape, the Providence Center for Photographic Arts brings together two series of images by photographer Russell Hart, Water Rights and Brink of Light. Created primarily in the American South and Southwest, in both black and white and color, these photographs explore the human imprint on the American landscape and, more generally, the ongoing clash between people and nature.
Unlike some contemporary environmental photography, though, Hart’s images don’t embrace disfigurement of the landscape as a form of commentary. They are an attempt to find meaning and beauty even in a landscape that has been compromised by human activity and endeavor. In these two groups of photographs, in fact, some of the images are about the persistence of pure nature, though its elements—water, wildlife, and plant life—are represented in nonrealistic ways.
Hart’s work has always studied the ways humans occupy and alter the landscape, and the resulting intersection of the built and natural worlds. Structures often serve as stand-ins, only implying the presence of people—though these are often abandoned and forlorn, having lost their original utility. When human figures appear, as they do more often in Hart’s recent photographs, they remain small and relatively isolated in the scene. In some images, the balance tilts toward the human; in others, toward nature or pure landscape. This dynamic is an overriding part of modern life, as human enterprise continues to intrude into the natural world and nature fights to reclaim lost ground.    
Through his photographs, Hart intends to question the utility and meaning of the objects humans place in a landscape, and of the less obvious ways that people leave their imprint. In some cases, though, these questions are unanswerable, and viewers are left with the pure mystery of those things.
Russell Hart brings his observations on the American landscape to the Providence Center for Photographic Arts, continuing a long history of sharing his photographic vision. Past museum exhibitions include The DeCordova Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, The Newport Art Museum, The Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, The Griffin Museum in Winchester, Massachusetts, and, more recently, the State Art Gallery in Hyderabad, India. He received three traveling fellowships from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
In addition to his talent behind the camera, Russell is an award winning editor and writer on photographic subjects, having worked for most of America’s major photographic magazines over the course of his career, including a 25-year stint as executive editor at American Photo. He has also authored or collaborated on numerous books, including the Prentice-Hall college textbook Photography (with Henry Horenstein) and the original Photography For Dummies. Awards for his writing have included the 2009 Susan Sontag Scribe Award for best photographic writing, from the Griffin Museum of Photography; the 2006 Best Photography Magazine Award, from the International Photography Awards/Lucie Foundation, for American Photo; and the 1993 National Magazine Award for General Excellence, from the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), for American Photo. He has also been a photography columnist for The New York Times.
Hart earned his MFA from Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and has taught photography at Tufts University and the Museum School. He now teaches in the master’s in digital photography program at New York’s School of Visual Arts.