Hitchcock Community Gallery
The Landscape Paintings of Hitchcock and Gloman
Artists: Ora Hitchcock and David Gloman
On exhibit November 1 – December 31, 2018
Amherst College Professor David Gloman spent this past summer painting the same central Connecticut River Valley landscapes that noted scientific illustrator and scientist Orra White Hitchcock depicted 175 years earlier. Working with collaborator Kurt Heidinger, director of the Biocitizen School of Field Environmental Philosophy, Gloman identified Hitchcock’s original vantage points for a selection of her local landscapes and then positioned himself as closely as possible to those spots to recreate her work in his own voice.
This exhibit pairs Gloman’s new paintings of these sites with those of Hitchcock, and the exhibit reveals how much has changed in almost two centuries — and how much has remained the same.
About the Artists
Orra White Hitchcock, 1796-1863
Orra White Hitchcock (Amherst, MA) was one of the country’s first female botanical and scientific illustrators and artists. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1796, Orra showed an aptitude for science and math from a young age. She knew how to calculate syzygies, or an alignment of celestial bodies used to predict eclipses, at 14. At 17, Orra started teaching art and science at Deerfield Academy, where she began a relationship with principal Edward Hitchcock. The pair married in 1821.
Later, when Edward Hitchcock began teaching at Amherst College, his students were lucky: The theologian and geologist was one of the mid-nineteenth century’s leading scientists, and his classes featured the added benefit of exquisite visual aids prepared by Orra. Painted onto sheets of cotton, some measuring more than 12 feet long, these guides to the natural world depicted phenomena ranging from the contorted lines of a Deerfield, Mississippi, bed of clay to the curved tusks of an elephant’s ancestral predecessor. Orra made drawings for more than 200 plates and 1,000 wood-engraved or woodcut illustrations for Edward Hitchcock’s professional publications. The subjects included landscapes, geologic strata, specimens, and more.
While published illustrations exist, only a small number of Hitchcock’s original works survives. The Amherst College Archives and Special Collections has the most extensive documentation of her life and work, in the Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers and copies of all of Edward Hitchcock’s scientific publications. The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College held the first major retrospective exhibition of her work in 2011, “Orra White Hitchcock (1796-1863): An Amherst Woman of Art and Science,” with a catalogue.
My work , through all of it’s incarnations and explorations, has always been about light and a form of linear geometry; two seemingly incongruent, disparate perceptions.
As a young boy growing up in the spacious environs of Northern Indiana most of my time was spent outdoors playing and exploring in the woods and cornfields surrounding my house. The role that light and weather play in an agricultural place and the grid like geometry of the fields are two elements always present in my work.
I paint directly outdoors and the paintings are distilled visual experiences of specific places. This visual distillation involves the act of boiling down, the removal of the unnecessary and the finding of the essential. I have converted a 12 foot box truck into a mobile studio which allows me to paint in any weather condition, time of day and also to work in a very large scale. My work is strongly influenced by all American landscape painting as well as Corot, Poussin and most importantly Cezanne.
My paintings represent a synthesis of present and past experiences. These paintings are images of where I am in the world at a specific moment, both literally and metaphorically. I hope to capture my relationship to the world by exploring and giving form to the space between myself and objects. I am trying to paint what is not there. They are not paintings of ideas rather paintings of direct experience. They are more about the journey of looking rather than the complete end result of looking. Conscious rather than self-conscious. Open ended.
Visit the artist’s website.