"America in View" Exhibit at RISD Museum

"America in View: Landscape Photography 1865 to Now" at the RISD Museum runs through January 13, 2013.

In an age when Instagram interrupts every party, people use Skype in public places and cameras record us running red lights, it can feel as if photography is following us, and it’s not always pretty. So, it’s refreshing to see the impressive new show, "America in View: Landscape Photography 1865 to Now" exhibited at the RISD museum through Jan. 13. This show, in part a tribute to treasured RISD professor and artist Joe Deal, deftly demonstrates the breadth of landscape photography within the museum’s collection and beyond. And the prints are really, really good.

Organized generally by time period, the show begins with what is happening right now – contemporary photographs from artists working today. I loved Doug Rickard’s perspective, which pushes the definition of the camera and the photograph: rather than being created by a camera in person, Rickard trolled Google Street View for urban spaces that he felt were neglected. The photograph shows three young men crossing a wide street in Detroit, making the landscape and the people inhabiting it inseparable.

Doug Rickard's #82.948842, Detroit, MI, 2009, 2010

Jesse Burke, who photographs for Rhode Island Monthly, also has an impressive showing in this room, and his exploration of tenderness and masculinity is shown in both his self-portrait and his look at the land at night. Richard Misrach’s sublime landscape and Gregory Crewdson’s construction also occupy this Room of Big Prints. Another nod to the contemporary is the RISD museum’s collaboration with Andy Adams of FlakPhoto.com, who created this online exhibition of contemporary work, which will be online for the duration of the “America in View” show.

The exhibition continues, going back to the early stages of photography during the time of Westward expansion. The work of photographers such as Timothy O’Sullivan is shown in its swashbuckling glory, exploring the land for a government survey (and carrying heavy glass plate negatives with him.) Other historical photographic processes are also shown here, including stereographs, photogravure, platinum prints and an incredible cyanotype panorama of Providence in 1900 when the State House was under construction.

For the rest of the show, you find a piece from almost everyone that you would expect or hope to see. Joe Deal’s nineteen square pieces, Callahan, Winogrand, Friedlander, Siskind, Evans, Abbott, Weston, Uelsmann, Baltz, Shore, Adams, Ruscha and the list goes on. Locals and RISD grads make their stamp, including our friend Mike Cevoli. When I arrived at this show, I feared that women photographers might be left out, but their work is well represented here, from Sally Mann with her collodion, to Ana Mendieta’s Furrows. City, country, pristine, desecrated, ocean view, landlocked, small, large: this is a wonderful show, and I recommend that everyone check it out.

mike Cevoli's Cottage Street Mill with Houses, Franklin, MA, 2008