KANSAS CITY, Mo -- Nature holds random, unpredictable beauty in the wilderness landscapes painted by Thomas Cole in the early 1800s. Clouds float within touching distance of mountainsides. Dead trees lay broken and decaying in a glade but a forest full of fresh green life is beyond. Cole sought to capture nature’s profound wildness and in turn his popular paintings influenced American art, creating the Hudson River School.
Discover nature through examples of Cole’s art and his influence on American’s sense of identity on display in Wild Land, Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Landscape Painting. Wild Land is open to the public to view for free through May 25 at the Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave in Kansas City.
Wild Land is an interactive exhibit that explores Cole’s paintings and the philosophical and spiritual movements connected to nature that were influencing artists and drawing them into the American wilderness. The exhibit includes artists’ tools of the time from paint pigments to a paint brush actually used by Cole.
An immigrant from England born in 1801, Cole died in 1848. While his art included several subject styles, landscaping paintings were his most noted works. The artist’s writings also influenced his contemporaries, and together with his art, helped sow the seeds for the modern conservation movement.
Wild Land is a national touring exhibit. The Mid-America Arts Alliance based in Kansas City developed Wild Land based on an earlier project by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, New York. This exhibit was made possible by NEH on the Road, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Wild Land is on display in the Discovery Center’s lobby 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. On May 1 and May 15, the exhibit will be open until 9 p.m. Teh Discovery Center is open on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 816-759-7300.