New Exhibition, Captured Earth, Opens May 24 at MoCP

PhotoMeghann Riepenhoff, "Ecotone #285 (Bryant Park, NY 12.15.17, Mixed Precipitation of Freezing Rain and Snow)," 2017
The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago (MoCP) presents "Captured Earth" on view from May 24-August 18, 2024. The exhibition is curated by Kristin Taylor, MoCP curator of academic programs and collections.

"Captured Earth" presents works by artists who create works in photography and installation that use elements from nature to explore place, ecology and the material and mystical qualities of the land. Depictions range from site-specific performances, including Tarrah Krajnak’s documentations of her nature-centered rituals using rocks and plant material, and Alan Cohen’s walking meditations in various landscapes. 

Some artists use natural elements to create experimental process-based works, such as Jeremy Bolen’s prints produced from film developed in a polluted river or Barbara Crane’s photographs of tree bark that she gathered at her Michigan cabin retreat. Others attempt to convey things so confounding that they cannot be contained in an image, such as Penelope Umbrico’s "8,146,774 Suns From Flickr (Partial) 9/10/10," that presents an assemblage of photographs of sunsets from one day found on a photo sharing website to underscore the universal human attraction to capture the sun’s essence.

Collectively, the exhibition shows ways artists grapple with creating visual language to express their connection to the earth and its magnitude.

The exhibition features work by Karl Blossfeldt, Jeremy Bolen, Alan Cohen, Antonia Contro with sound design by Lou Mallozzi, Barbara Crane, Odette England, Whit Forrester, Bertha E. Jaques, Dakota Mace, Robert Mapplethorpe, Byung-Hun Min, Liza Nguyen, Tarrah Krajnak, Martha Madigan, John Opera, Eliot Porter, Meghann Riepenhoff, Rachel Sussman and Penelope Umbrico.

Curator Kristin Taylor states: "The majority of the works in this exhibition are pulled from the MoCP permanent collection of over 17,000 objects. The show highlights many experimental, camera-less works in our collection by artists who push the edges of the documentary capacity of photography to offer nuanced perspectives on ways to restore human connection to nature. Their works underscore the importance of cultivating a tangible relationship with the land as a vital response to today's environmental challenges.”

  • Opening Reception with Artist Talk by Dakota Mace
    Thursday, May 30, 5-8 p.m.
    Lecture 6-7 p.m. in the Ferguson Lecture Hall 

    MoCP will have an opening reception with a talk by exhibiting artist Dakota Mace. Mace will speak about her works in the exhibition that incorporate photography, weaving, papermaking and beadwork to address ancestral relationships to Diné landscapes.
  • Tree Walk Through Grant Park With Openlands
    Thursday, June 13, 6-7 p.m. 
    Depart from MoCP, 600 S. Michigan Ave.
    Tom Ebeling, senior forestry program manager for the Community Forestry team at Openlands will lead a tree walk in Grant Park. Ebeling will teach us how to identify and understand the history and needs of trees in the area. Participants will depart from MoCP at 6 p.m. and then go on an hour-long walk through the park.
  • Photos at Zoom: Art and the Anthropocene
    Tuesday, July 2, 12-1 p.m.        

    Join us on Zoom to discuss works in MoCP's collection that connect to topics related to the age of the Anthropocene. Select artists include Edward Burtynsky, David Maisel, Fabrice Monteiro, Christina Seeley and more.
  • Gallery talk with Antonia Contro
  • Photographing the Midwest Landscape
    Tuesday, July 16, 12–1 p.m.
    For this in-person event, artist Terry Evans will lead a discussion about works she selected from MoCP's collection depicting the Midwest landscape. The selection will include varied photographic approaches to locations such as prairies, farms and the Great Lakes.
  • Guided Meditation with Hillary Johnson
    Saturday, Aug. 10, 2-3 p.m.
    Guests are invited to join artist and educator, Hillary Johnson, for a special in-gallery guided meditation. This program will extend on themes in the exhibition of mindfulness and connectivity to nature.