The Nice Unknown: The Museum of Northern Arizona unveils a brand new exhibit that examines the mysteries of Glen Canyon | Arts


On the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNAZ), guests can journey by time in “The Nice Unknown” exhibit, which tells the story of the ever-changing and mysterious Glen Canyon. As Lake Powell’s receding waters make headlines, palpable traces of human intervention are revealed under the rising canyon partitions. “The Nice Unknown” exhibit invitations guests to look at this place all through its completely different levels and ponder how they relate to a spot themselves.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s web site states that the 710-foot-tall Glen Canyon Dam was constructed in Glen Canyon to offer water and energy from The Colorado River to cities within the West, which was initiated by President Eisenhower in 1956. After the Dam’s completion, what as soon as was Glen Canyon stuffed up with water, creating Lake Powell.

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In accordance with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Lake Powell’s water ranges have been receding since 2000. Due to this, we now have an fascinating vantage level within the space immediately. Receding waters have been revealing extra about Glen Canyon than we beforehand knew. For instance, the USGS recorded sediment deposits alongside the altering shorelines, offering a greater understanding of how reservoirs have an effect on water programs.

Nonetheless, this concept of slowly unveiling the mysteries of Glen Canyon isn’t new. John Wesley Powell, the primary particular person of European descent to analyze and catalog Glen Canyon, referred to the world as The Nice Unknown–therefore, the MNAZ exhibit’s title.

Kristan Hutchinson, Director of Public Applications at MNAZ defined why Powell referred to as Glen Canyon “The Nice Unknown” in his journals. Hutchinson stated that upon first wanting on the sensuous and sophisticated maze of canyons, it should appear inconceivable to know all there’s to know concerning the space. Regardless of there being indigenous individuals there for a very long time, she stated that on the time of Powell’s expeditions, Glen Canyon was not recognized to the broader world.

Because the dam’s building within the Fifties and ‘60s, Hutchinson stated the canyon homes mysteries as soon as once more.

“Powell initially stated, it’s the good unknown as a result of we do not understand it but,” Hutchinson stated. “However now there’s numerous components of it which are unknown as a result of we allow them to go underwater, and like our oceans, there’s a lot we do not know as a result of it is underwater.”

With an space broadly unknown, there’s much less of an opportunity it’ll be disturbed or in any other case impacted by people. Nonetheless, with a spot being unknown to the broader world, there are additionally fewer individuals accessible to advocate for that place. Hutchinson defined how that form of consciousness was what drove artists to seize Glen canyon – an consciousness that might collect advocates for the canyon.

“What we do not know, we do not shield,” Hutchinson stated. “So, then all these artists began coming [to Glen Canyon] and seeing it and saying, wait a minute, that is one thing individuals ought to learn about. They need to perceive that we must be appreciating it.”

Understanding concerning the proposed dam in Glen Canyon, photographers like Elliot Porter and Tad Nichols sought to seize what would quickly be underwater and thus unknown. Hutchinson stated environmental group The Sierra Membership partnered up with Porter to create a e-book in protest of the upcoming dam entitled “The Place No One Knew: Glen Canyon on the Colorado.” Whereas the efforts of The Sierra Membership and Porter didn’t reach stopping the Dam’s building, they did pave the best way for different environmentalists to make use of artwork to advertise advocacy and appreciation of different locations.

“This was actually the primary coloration photograph e-book that was put out to attempt to make individuals perceive an environmental trigger and to guard a spot,” Hutchinson stated. “Now that is a very frequent factor, proper? However this was the primary one and it was very, very groundbreaking on the time.”

Hutchinson stated that Porter’s infatuation with Glen Canyon is noticeable in his photographs, a lot of that are on show within the MNAZ exhibit alongside different artists who captured the canyon. Although, photographers didn’t at all times have the intention of defending Glen Canyon when photographing it. For instance, the Kolb brothers – who famously captured the splendor of the Grand Canyon– photographed Glen Canyon in hopes of stimulating tourism earlier than the dam was even in query.

Although much like Porter, Tad Nichols photographed the canyon with the intention of combating the dam earlier than its building. Nonetheless, Nichols took a distinct method than Porter–one which Hutchinson stated absolutely attracted extra consciousness to the canyon. Nichols’ expeditions have been alongside the legendary Katie Lee, who was a well-liked singer, actress and environmental advocate. In his black-and-white photographs accentuating the curves and delightful intricacies of the canyon, Lee additionally flaunted her pure curves. Hutchinson stated the photographs of Lee not solely evoke a dialog about defending what is gorgeous, however most of the photographs additionally present how small the human presence within the canyon was on the time.

Alternatively, after the dam’s building created Lake Powell, photographers captured individuals recreating the world, occupying what was as soon as empty.

Hutchinson talked concerning the distinction we see in what photographers have captured of Glen Canyon over time. Not solely has the panorama utterly modified, however the human presence within the space has grow to be large. At first, human influence within the canyon was solely noticeable by indigenous rock artwork and Powell carving his identify into the canyon to primarily say ‘I used to be right here.’ Nonetheless, up to date photographs reveal the magnitude of the influence individuals had on the world, particularly as receding waters reveal human traces. Hutchinson stated the “The Nice Unknown” exhibit highlights the extremes of how people are in a spot, which reveals how individuals relate to a spot.

“[The exhibit offers] a beautiful approach to look, not simply at this one place, someplace within the information, however to replicate on how we work together with the land and with place,” Hutchinson stated. “And this can be a great alternative to return discover and take into consideration this stuff, and likewise to see some actually, actually lovely photographs.”

The Museum of Northern Arizona invitations Flagstaff locals, guests and college students to take a look at “The Nice Unknown” exhibit, which is on show all through autumn, Hutchinson stated. She stated she encourages anybody to return in and stroll by the exhibit, picturing Glen Canyon all through the years and its many levels.



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