February 26th, 2015
Gilcrease Writing Assignment
Throughout time there has significant changes in the environment and the world we live in is always changing form and evolving. This factor has never changed and still remains constant throughout today. While visiting the Gilcrease Museum on our field trip we observed are from the 1800’s to the early 1900’s. all the pieces of artwork we examines were in direct correlation to the opening statement made. These pieces of artwork were, for the most part of a portrait of nature before it was touched and what many believe to be destroyed by human interaction. These beautiful pieces of art work give us a large insist to what was happening at the time and how much or civilization and people as a whole have affected our landscape whether it be positive or negative. These pieces of artwork depict nature in its purest form showing instead of tellings its intricate past from the lush greenery, the vast array of plants and landscapes, the overbearing amount of wildlife and the hand that humans played in it. Seeing these photos gives a large insight to how big of an impact we had really made due to technology advances, desire for profit, advancement of agriculture and the transition from rural life to the bustling, urban metropolises we live in today and many other fractions that can be portrayed from simply observing a small artistic window into the past. The pieces that were chosen to talk about stood out most to me as the audience and gave me the best insight to the changing landscape during the turn of the 19th century. They give one a contrasting view from nature's point of view play the role of a protagonist and humans as the role of the opposing antagonist. These pieces of art combined help to tell the full tale of what really happened to our great nation as settlers took over where trees used to lay.
The first painting examined was a very simple depiction of wildlife. Though simple the story, it had behind it was so much more complex than can be examined from the surface. The painting was of a heard a around a few hundred buffalo which seemed to be grazing on a plain or prairie in the region of the great plains. This area is now where modern day Kansas City lies. Many would walk past the painting because as I had mentioned it is a very simple photo. Having the director of the Gilcrease at our disposal provided to be very helpful with walking us through the photo rather than just skimming it and moving on. The first piece of artwork as described by the director was to show and give a depiction of the impact english settlers had on wildlife and how a number of buffalo were completely diminished from existence because of them. There were around 50-60 million buffalo at their peak of existence before english settlers pushed westward during times of expansion. Before then the natives had buffalo but on a scale that was enough to provide for their families and live off of but it did not dwindle the population and wildlife and the natives as well as the land seemed to have a perfect balance in terms of numbers and reproduction. When the english settler starting pushing westward to claim free land and make a name for themselves the had to clear their path whether it be vegetation on their land or wildlife in their way it was removed. Buffalos were prized because their pelt was so strong that it could be used in the belts of machines in the large industrial factories across the sea so poaching became an easy way to remove the bison off of the land as well as the fur and meat benefits. With this rapid expansion west came a rapid decline in the population of buffaloes. At its worst point the population was down to two thousand buffalo and at that rate extinction, of an animal that flourished before the times of modern civilization,was on the brink. This shows what a large and devastating impact people can have when the only prudent interests are