This is the American Earth: An exhibition and book by Ansel Adams, Nancy Newhall, and the Sierra Club
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 07:42 authored by Josephine Minhinnett
During a remarkable period of growth for the Sierra Club during the Cold War, the club sponsored This Is the American Earth in 1954, a collaborative project between Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall that resulted in a 1955 exhibition of photographs and a 1960 photobook on the theme of nature conservation. The two productions of photography provide a crucial opportunity to examine how the medium was employed as a campaign tool and an instrument of propaganda over a period of six years. Yet, the project has been almost exclusively defined by its 1960 book. This thesis aims to recuperate the message and import of the 1955 exhibition to determine the function of the entire project, significantly revealing that in addition to being a social and political device, This Is the American Earth marked a critical point in Adams’s and Newhall’s ongoing battle for photography’s recognition as a fine art.