© 2019 By Joseph Rossano

Conservation From Here

 

 

 

 

Conservation From Here uses the visual, spatial, and tactile qualities of art to create awareness about the preservation of species. The exhibit shows how, through Theodore Roosevelt’s love for animals, he came to embrace and champion conservation. The materials employed in making the art objects that constitute Conservation From Here create a contextual matrix that leads viewers to a place of understanding about conservation and conservation science. This multimedia exhibit originates at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, the home of Theodore Roosevelt, and examines a more than 100-year-old promise of conservation, inspiring a new generation to revere animals and conserve. 

 

Like the women suffragists who congregated on Roosevelt’s lawn to hear him talk about issues important to their cause, a herd of 200 Roosevelt Elk, created from aluminum, congregate on that same location, waiting for Roosevelt to address them about the promise of conservation.

In Old Orchard Hall, Theodore Roosevelt Jr.’s home located on the grounds of the Sagamore Hill, images taken from Roosevelt Sr.’s hunting rifles are on display. Veneers cut from a tree planted by Roosevelt Sr. serve as the backdrop for North American game. Depictions of antelope, deer, elk, and bear, are rendered in ink made of that same tree’s bark. Alongside these panels, viewers  find artifacts from Roosevelt’s personal collection, many gifts, some from heads of state, each emphasizing the 25thpresident’s love for animals. 

On display at the Oyster Bay Historical Society viewers  find a room filled with trophies mimicking the great North Room at Sagamore Hill. This counterfeit North Room is executed in monochrome, all of the trophies and furniture are actual size, but in black and white. Juxtaposing this colorless rendition of Roosevelt’s iconic trophy room are the brightly colored DNA and photographic depictions of creatures native to Sagamore Hill’s surrounds. Collected, sequenced, and cataloged by school children, the DNA and photographs act as counterpoint to the large white trophies. Like Roosevelt these children are citizen scientists, but instead of gun and net they are using technology of today to catalog much of our planet. 

At each successive venue the North Room will be re-adorned with regional DNA and photographs collected by local school children. Working with past International Barcode of Life president Christian Burks and with support from The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Barcode Long Island and Colin Mangham of Rossano Studio, curriculum for middle and high school science teachers has been created to inspire a new generation of citizen scientists.

After it's eight month run at Sagamore Hill, Conservation From Here will travel throughout the US to other presidential libraries and parks within the National Park system. Because the exhibit’s theme is conservation, and a major portion of it incorporates Roosevelt Elk, a Pacific Northwest species, it is significant that many of its sponsors and partners call the Pacific Northwest home too. The exhibit serves as a model of conservation awareness, as much of it is made from recycled materials. Upon the exhibit’s conclusion the two hundred elk are destined for return to the smelter, to themselves be repurposed.