Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Studio Art and Design, MFA
Decolonial art; photography; America settler colonialism; fine art; Kentucky; anthropocene
These thesis and exhibition, invite the viewers to travel through different places in Central and Eastern Kentucky. The region’s landscape, like many other American landscapes, is often known to the public through the settler colonial lens—a lens that ignores Indigenous peoples’ history in the region. The work in the exhibition is a response to landscape art's history and its complicity with American settler colonialism- art that was recruited to create a new identity for the settlers and for the country from the beginning of the American Colonial Project. Landscape art was a crucial part of this effort, presenting the land as an empty, God-given place for white settlers. However, not only was this land not empty but it has been occupied by Native Americans for millennia. Communities lived within the land and did not separate themselves from it. As opposed to this way of living, settler colonialism seeks to take over land and extract its resources, while trying to eliminate all Indigenous peoples. This approach has never ended and in many ways is the root of the climate and environmental crisis we live in. The exhibition offers both moments and images that appear to be more dire; others are intimate and hopeful. This contrast and tension are a reminder that while we grieve the victims and losses of colonial violence, there are many survivors. Regardless of what the future will look like, we can be inspired by the resiliency and nevertheless imagine a new world.
Polakow, Shachaf, "The landscape does not care it is a landscape: A utopian pessimist journey in Kentucky." (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 4074.
Retrieved from https://ir.library.louisville.edu/etd/4074
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