Frederic Church’s Olana: Art, Ecology, and the Native Forest

Apr. 8, 2024, 5:30 p.m.

Taylor Hall, Room 203

A Lecture by Sean Sawyer, Washburn & Susan Oberwager President of The Olana Partnership and 2024 Belle Ribicoff Visiting Professor at Vassar College

Visiting Ribicoff Professor Sean Sawyer will give a lecture on Olana, the masterwork of Frederic Church (1826-1900), America’s most famous artist of the mid-19th century. As a painter, Church defined our national identity as inextricably linked to the majesty of the natural world. At Olana, Church married aesthetic endeavor with environmental action. At the core of his endeavor was the ambitious reforestation of 250 acres of overworked land with native trees.      

Since 1971, The Olana Partnership and New York State Parks have worked tirelessly to restore Olana in a pioneering public-private partnership that has become a model for the nation.

Sean Sawyer, President of The Olana Partnership, will discuss how Church engaged with the emerging field of ecology, first by literally following in the footsteps of Alexander von Humboldt in his meteoric rise as the country’s most celebrated landscape painter and then in his four-decade-long development of Olana, where he immersed himself in “landscape architecturing” to speak to the history of the land and human impact on it.

No reservations required. Admission is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the Art Department.

Arial view of the castle style building surrounded by trees.
  Olana, the residence of artist Frederic Church