Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

As I think back to last Monday’s class, I remember having a discussion on how people have different views on nature. Some view nature through scientific eyes, while some view nature through observance of its own natural beauty. Others just see nature as the wilderness or a danger and a threat. Why can’t nature be all of these things? Isn’t everything that a person sees how they perceive it to be?

Ebenezer Swamp

This is a picture that I took of Ebenezer Swamp last fall during my Color Drawing class with Professor Joe Bennett. In this photograph you can see that the swamp has a lot going on around it. There are trees that have fallen into the swamp. The moss and leaves are growing all over the place. It doesn’t quite look like a place where you can walk around and admire your surroundings.

Drawing of Ebenezer Swamp

Now look at my drawing of the swamp from the picture. Still looks the same, but not as intimidating. It’s definitely still very busy. Although, as opposed to the picture, in my drawing of the swamp everything is bit calmer. The leaves, moss, and grass are blended together through different colors and there is only one fallen tree in the background. My perception of the swamp was an animated colorful place. I did not see it as intimidating or ugly.

How do you perceive it?

This reminds me of the pictures that we were shown the first Monday of class. The two paintings by Frederick Edwin Church are perfect examples of how different people may perceive nature.

Frederick Edwin Church, Cotopaxi (1855)

His painting here seems very quiet and peaceful. The little village to the right seems nice and in harmony with nature. The human aspect in the painting does not seem to fight with its natural surroundings. At the same time, even without the village this landscape painting does not make nature seem like the “wilderness” to me. It’s just nature.

Frederick Edwin Church, Cotopaxi (1862)

On the other hand, this view of the same scene but with the volcano erupting might seem to some as dangerous thous posing this to be considered the wilderness. However, as dangerous and uninviting as this scene may seem, in my eyes it has a primitive beauty to it. This is how nature is supposed to look. I do not consider the trees, and the mountains, and the harsh winds from the volcano the “wilderness”. It’s not wild. Its just how the world and nature should be seen. Keep in mind, this is how the artist viewed nature. He painted it to suit how he felt about the landscape or how he saw the landscape to be. It is very similar to my own drawing I did of the swamp. People have their own way of seeing things even if it is something that is right in front of us. We make the world up already how we want it in our minds.

I brought up the idea of the origin of the word “wilderness” and I do believe that because this one word was developed, it has created a separation of the world in people’s minds that shouldn’t be. It alters people’s perception of the nature that is around us every day. According to Wikipedia:

 Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: “The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with roads, pipelines or other industrial infrastructure.”[1] Wilderness areas can be found in preserves, estates, farms, conservation preserves, ranches, National Forests, National Parks and even in urban areas along rivers, gulches or otherwise undeveloped areas.

There should not be civilization and the wilderness. Most “natural parks” have been altered by humans by preserving it just for the sake of “being in the wilderness” to experience the beauty and amazement of nature. If you think about it, where we live now at one point in time was probably considered the wilderness too. So don’t you think the world as a whole is the wilderness? There is beauty and nature all around us even in the most insignificant areas as the swamp, or the backyard of a farm, or even the lake at a Girl Scout camp. Where ever you may be, nature is beautiful as a whole and not wild.

Next time you decide to take a trip into the “wilderness” consider this . . . the wilderness is in your own backyard. Welcome to nature.

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