Technology, Industrialization and the Landscape

Blackstone Valley Historical Society Annual Meeting

May 21, 2017
1:30 p.m. Annual Meeting with Elections of Officers. 
2:00 p.m. Annual Christine Nowak Lecture

Gail Mohanty, PhD,  will give the annual Christine Nowak Memorial Lecture. Her topic will be Technology, Industrialization and the Landscape.

“Looking East from Denny’s Hill” by Ralph Earl, c. 1800. Oil on Canvas, Worcester Art Museum

Her talk will trace the changes from the late 18th century through the first half of the 20th century using a series of landscape paintings as evidence of changes to the environment.

The availability of land in the New World and its seemingly untamed character led the settlers to acquire land, clear it of trees, and create fields and farms. In this way, they attempted to duplicate what was familiar and prized in their homeland.

“The Starrucca Viaduct” by Jasper Cropsey, c. 1865. Oil on Canvas, Toledo Museum of Art

By the 18th century, these transplanted European residents continued to idealize the pastoral landscape, and artists depicted the results in paint and print.  By the end of the 18th century, a more diverse economy began to be developed, including some manufacturing and mining. By the first half of the 19th century the introduction of built elements to the environment were also incorporated into visual art.

Dr. Mohanty is a native Rhode Islander who returned to the state in 1990, working at Slater Mill Historic Site initially, and then turned to teaching in 2001. She is currently an Adjunct Faculty member in the History and Social Studies Department at Bryant University and Senior Lecturer, Liberal Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design.




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