About Kelly Wacker

Dr. Kelly Wacker is a Professor of Art at the University of Montevallo where she has taught art history since 2002. She has research interests in Land Art, environmental art, and ecologically oriented art.

Whew! You’re done! We’re done!

Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 8.14.33 PM


A reindeer in honor of the upcoming holidays. As we have learned, people visit national parks in expectation of seeing grand wildlife, so I thought a reindeer would be appropriate!

Hey National Parks Gang!

I just wanted to post one more time and wrap things up.  I hope that you found this course interesting and that you’ve expanded your thinking about nature, culture, art, and national parks — all things that we tend to take for granted and not give a whole lot of deep, critical thought.  I hope that over the last few months we’ve changed that.

I also wanted to let you know that Andrew and I met this afternoon to evaluate, calculate, and post grades on Banner.  We looked at everyone individually and revisited all posts, discussed participation (which includes attendance, participation in discussion in and outside of class, especially via the blog), and the final projects.  There was a pattern in that those of you who did well posted all or most of the required blogs, had good participation, and had a strong final project.  Completing few blogs or posting blogs that were very short and did not meet the requirements negatively impacted grades.  Although we both don’t enjoy calculating and assigning grades (the classroom part of class is the best part of teaching) we did enjoy revisiting the class and we really did find your final projects interesting.  If you have any questions about your final grade please feel free to contact either of us.

I hope your Finals Week goes well and that you have a great break and holidays ahead!

– Kelly

David Oates, Excerpts from “Paradise Wild”

What would it be like to stop mourning for nature?  To live in the natural world, to savor it and cherish it, even to use it, as all living beings must, without feeling that everything was terribly wrong?

This question is the opening sentence of Paradise Wild: Reimagining American Nature by David Oates, an environmental writer and poet.  Our reading for next week will be drawn from this book and include the introduction, a chapter called “Paradise Lost,” and some excerpts, 22 pages in all.  His writing is direct and accessible, but you’ll want to budget some time to consider the ideas he puts forth. Continue reading

Confessions of a tired academic…

Hey National Parks Gang,

I have a confession.  I’m exhausted and unprepared for class tomorrow.  In the last two weeks I’ve been at two conferences.  I was in Milwaukee for the annual meeting of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (our accrediting agency) and I returned in the wee hours of this morning from Durham, North Carolina, where I participated in the Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC).  I don’t think I am going to be able to get the Wilson reading done before class tomorrow and I feel rather guilty and a little embarrassed about that, especially because I recently sent you my impassioned email about being prepared for class.  May I ask for your forgiveness in advance of class? Continue reading

Do / Don’t Feed the Bears: How to Manage a National Park

Horace Albright, Superintendent of Yellowstone, 1922

Visitors to Yellowstone National Park often went to see the wildlife in addition to the geothermal features (geysers, mud pots, etc.).  Bears, like humans, are omnivores and they will happily eat a lot of the things that people like to eat.  Between getting handouts from park visitors and from foraging in the garbage set out behind park hotels, bears developed a taste for human food.  By the 1890s visitors commonly gathered at trash dumps to watch the spectacle of bears feeding in close proximity.  Continue reading

READ THIS… Constructing Nature: The Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted

Click here to download “Constructing Nature: The Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted,” by Anne Whiston Spirn.

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) left a legacy of wonderful places, from Central Park to Boston’s Emerald Necklace, from Niagara Falls to Yosemite. Few people now recognize these as built landscapes. Most are startled to learn that New York’s Central Park was constructed, that even The Ramble is an artful wilderness, and that Boston’s Fens and Riverway were molded out of polluted mudflats, planted to grow into tidal marsh and floodplain forest. Even those few who recognize Central Park and The Fens as constructions are surprised at how extensively the experience of Niagara Falls and Yosemite are shaped by design, for these have come to stand as monuments of nature untouched by human artifice.

This essay is included in an anthology, Uncommon Ground Toward Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (1995), edited by William Cronon.  We’ve read Cronon’s essay, “The Trouble with Wilderness” and he appears in the Ken Burns documentary.  Sprin is an author, photographer, designer, landscape architect, and teacher.

Click here for study questions for this essay.  It is expected that you will read this article and be able to answer these questions in class on Monday.

Olmsted and Muir Readings

Click here for Frederick Law Olmsted, Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove, A Preliminary Report

“Written in 1865 by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted when he served briefly as one of the first Commissioners appointed to manage the grant of the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove from Congress to the State of California Continue reading

Brian Lukacher: Landscape Art and Romantic Nationalism in Germany and America

The author, Brian Lukacher, is an art historian who has been teaching at Vassar College since the mid-1980s. In this essay, he provides an overview of how nationalism impacts landscape painting in Germany and America.

Pay particular attention to the sections, “Progress and It’s Discontents: Thomas Cole and the American Landscape,” and “To Silence or to Reveal Nature’s Allegory” as these are most relevant to class.

This reading is supplemental and may be useful to you as you develop ideas for your blogs or your research topic.  The file is rather large to preserve image quality; if you have any problems downloading it let Kelly know.

Click here to download the essay.