Landscape has been an important inspiration for artists across generations, and it played an important role in the foundation of this very institution. The soaring peaks of the Southern Rocky Mountains were a popular motif for many students and teachers of the Broadmoor Art Academy, founded in Colorado Springs in 1919, which evolved into the Fine Arts Center. Attracting renowned artists from across the country, mostly of European descent, the academy fostered a reverence for the natural landscape. But many depicted Colorado’s striking scenery as empty of human presence, ready to be explored for the benefit of the artist and viewer alike.
Landscape remains important for contemporary artists, yet many have a dramatically different relationship to the genre. The five artists featured in Contested Terrains acknowledge how human intervention has shaped landscapes across the Americas. Joiri Minaya, for example, makes a connection between the Caribbean tourist economy and the arrival of the first European colonizers in Haiti. Nina Leo and Moez Surani present a view of the Great Lakes from Canada looking toward the US, offering a mournful homage to the unfifilled potential of a global superpower. Carolina Aranibar-Fernández looks at sites of extraction across the Americas. And Rosa Barba documents how transportation and development have altered a landscape in São Paulo, Brazil with shocking repercussions for the local community. Together, these artists extend the potential of landscape as a genre, and allow it to function as an entryway to overlooked histories, acknowledging how politics, power, and extraction have shaped the Americas as we know them today.
Contested Terrains is organized by Katja Rivera, Curator of Contemporary Art. Support of the exhibition is generously provided by the Catharine and Bart Holaday Endowment for Interactive Art.
Top image: Still from Nina Leo and Moez Surani’s Lullabies for a Waning Empire, 2023.
Right image: Rosa Barba, Disseminate and Hold, 2016, 16mm film transferred to digital, sound, 21:13 min, Film still © Rosa Barba