Image of painting titled On the Trail in Idaho

American Experiences

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find resources of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." Rachel Carson

The landscape features in many works of art that document the human condition and human experiences. Many of the artworks in this gallery are not typical or traditional landscape paintings. However, all include some element or representation of nature, the countryside, the great outdoors, a habitat, or water bound by land. Nature is present in each, from formal portraits of General George Washington framed by trees or leading soldiers into battle, to solitary figures dwarfed by the Southwestern landscape.

Artists have captured intense experiences, often romanticized, from quiet contemplation of a sunset on horseback, to the excitement of westward travel. Mountains, trees, and expanses of plains and skies frame the people within them. In some artworks, the landscape is brimming with tension. In others, a serene calm is conveyed. Fields and forests form a backdrop to idealized scenes of soldiers preparing for their next military engagement.

The soothing greenery of the countryside and everyday activities in and around camp convey comfort and familiarity that belie the horror that awaits in the next battle. Other works poignantly depict the freedom of distant vistas that are visible beyond the painful confines of the internment camp.

People are depicted within and at one with nature and the landscape. Artists have skillfully frozen action and movement of individuals and wildlife in the expanses of the great outdoors. Travelers are almost overpowered by looming mountains, endless plains, and canyon walls. The artist has keenly observed and recorded the direct gaze of individuals enveloped in nature. Others move silently on the land in the haze of dusk and provide the viewer with a regenerative calm.