'Earth as Art' Exhibit at Center for Western Studies

Event Details

Date: May 30 - August 26, 2011

Times: The exhibit runs 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Saturdays. A reception will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, June 30.

Location: Center for Western Studies' Madsen/Nelson/Elmen Galleries

Ticket Info: Free and open to the public

The new Earth as Art 3 collection made its nationwide debut in the Madsen/Nelson/Elmen Galleries of the Center for Western Studies on Tuesday, May 31, and is on view through Saturday, Aug. 27. A reception was held from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, June 30. The Center is partnering with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center to present this exhibit, the third in a series of award-winning USGS and NASA exhibitions. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Forty satellite images were selected for the exhibit based solely on their aesthetic appeal. Cloud formations, coastlines, mountain ranges, islands, deltas, glaciers and rivers seen from space take on patterns resembling abstract art with their striking textures and brilliant colors. Earth as Art 3 follows the Earth as Art 1 and Earth as Art 2 exhibits which have been shown in the Library of Congress, in the halls of Capitol Hill, and in museums and art centers around the country.

Taken from the Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 satellites, Earth as Art 3 depicts an intricate beauty in Earth’s natural patterns. Instead of paint, the medium for this collection is light. Satellite sensors don’t see light as the human eye does; sensors see the Earth in bands of red, green, blue and infrared. As these different bands are combined into a single image, fascinating patterns, colors and shapes emerge. 

For most of us, deserts, mountains, river valleys, coastlines — even dry lakebeds — are familiar features of the Earth’s landscape. For earth scientists, they are the focus of considerable research. But viewed from the unconventional perspective of space, Earth’s geographic attributes can also be surprisingly beautiful. The Earth as Art 3 collection provides fresh and inspiring glimpses of different parts of our planet’s complex surface, images of earth created for aesthetic purposes rather than scientific interpretation.

“While studying satellite imagery taken nearly 450 miles above the Earth’s surface, USGS researchers recognized that some remarkable images went beyond scientific value and inspired their imagination,” said Matt Larsen, USGS Associate Director for Climate and Land Use Change. “The collected images are authentic and original in the truest sense. These magnificently engaging portraits of Earth encourage us all to learn more about our complex world.” 

Accompanying the images of the earth as art is art from the earth — handmade art jewelry made by Jim Schoon of Vivian, S.D. Schoon’s jewelry creations are made from fossilized ammonites, dinosaur bones, semi-precious stones, and piano key ivory. 

The Center for Western Studies is located in the Fantle Building at 2121 S. Summit Ave. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is free. Call 605.274.4007 for more information.

Tim Hoheisel
Director of Outreach and Communication
Center for Western Studies