TERRAFORMING: Olana’s Historic Photography Collection Unearthed

Through October 29, 2023 
Olana State Historic Site 





The Olana Partnership, in collaboration with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, presents Terraforming: Olana’s Historic Photography Collection Unearthed at Olana State Historic Site. Inspired by Olana’s significant collection of nearly 2,000 19th century international photographic prints, artist and guest curator David Hartt reflects on the ways in which human culture and activity shape the land, eroding the boundary between human construction and the natural world, just as Frederic Church did in creating the 250-acre earthwork that is Olana. Through Hartt’s selection of historic photographs from Olana’s vast collection, the exhibition also explores what this global photographic collection tells us about Church’s painting practice, travels, and ways of knowing and collecting the world.

Terraforming will include historically significant works by photographers including Eadweard Muybridge, William James Stillman, and Claude-Joseph Désiré Charnay, as well as new site-specific work by David Hartt.  

Listen to guest curator David Hartt discuss his artistic process and vision for Terraforming: Olana’s Historic Photography Collection Unearthed. Learn more about how Hartt was inspired by Olana’s collection of nearly 2,000 19th-century international photographic prints to reflect on the ways in which human culture and activity shape our land. 

David Hartt (b. 1967, Montréal) lives and works in Philadelphia where he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. His work unpacks the social, cultural, and economic complexities of his various subjects. He explores how historic ideas and ideals persist or transform over time. His solo exhibitions include The Histories at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Coloured Garden at The Glass House, Connecticut and the group exhibition, Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. His work is in the public collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, The RISD Museum, Providence, The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Hartt is represented by Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, David Nolan Gallery, New York and Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin.

This exhibition has been made possible by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, support from the donors to The Olana Partnership’s Novak-Ferber Exhibitions Fund, and in-kind contributions by the NYS Bureau of Historic Sites, Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. Support for the associated publication has been provided by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art. David Hartt’s site-specific installation in Olana’s Historic Fern Garden is generously supported by Dianne Young and Jim Lewis. General support for The Olana Partnership’s programs is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.