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Compromised Beauty

Jennifer Steensma Hoag's avatar Jennifer Steensma Hoag

In Compromised Beauty photographs of beautiful landscapes are complicated by the inclusion of figures in Hazmat suits working within the scene, suggesting contamination of the environment. In this series I explore the correlation between pristine environmental beauty and perceived environmental health, and the impact of humans on the environment. While photography has been used to document and aestheticize the landscape, digital photography is also used to project what the future may be like. My photographs are a conflation of modernist landscape photography and ideas from the field of ecotoxicology. Tens of thousands of different chemicals are used in contemporary industrialized society and thousands more are introduced each year. Ecotoxicology studies the effects of toxic chemicals, some of which pose significant risk to humans and entire ecosystems. My work questions the sustainability of our chemical dependency. We depend upon the earth for our physical health, but we also rely upon the earth for our well being. We risk losing the natural places that provide humanity a sense of awe and renewal. Our world is increasingly customizable and society prioritizes individual needs and desires over the collective good. In our fast-paced, self-centered, technologically imbued world, natural spaces provide much needed calm, healing, and perspective. Our connection to the natural world has been a consistent thread in my work over the last twenty years. From large color photographs of ambiguous land use to digitally manipulated photographic fictions of deer in urban and suburban environments, my work has addressed the relationship of humans with the land and its inhabitants. Compromised Beauty was made possible by support from Calvin College, CCCS and The Mellema Program in Western Studies.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 2-D
  • Depth:
  • Medium: Pigment Prints
  • Width: 44 inches
  • Year created: 2014
  • Height: 32.25 inches