Utah State University’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) is hosting Utah’s Proving Ground: Aesthetics, Environment and Politics of Dugway Proving Ground, an artist talk and panel discussion on Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 5:15-6:30 p.m. This event complements the exhibition currently on view at the museum titled Proving Ground by photographer David Maisel.
The panel will be comprised of Maisel and Terry Tempest Williams, author; Mark Brunson, environmental ecologist at USU; Vincent Liddiard, chief of staff, Dugway Proving Ground; and moderated by Matthew LaPlante, USU journalism professor and reporter.
The event will be held at the USU Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall on the Logan campus and is free for NEHMA members, USU faculty, students and staff and $15 for the public. A book signing by Maisel and Williams, along with a reception, follows at NEHMA from 6:45-7:30 p.m.
Throughout his career, Maisel has explored the aesthetics and politics of radically human-altered environments, framing issues of contemporary landscape with equal measures of documentation and metaphor. The exhibition, Proving Ground, explores military power, land use and the limits of human technology.
About the exhibition: In 2014, after a decade of inquiry to the Pentagon, Maisel was granted permission to photograph Dugway Proving Ground. Through more than 30 large- and small-format photographs and two video projections, Proving Ground explores the surreal landscape and architecture of the classified military site, which is, in Maisel’s words, a “hidden, walled-off, and secret site that offers the opportunity to reflect on who and what we are collectively, as a society.”
Maisel will provide an overview on photographs of the three different projects he worked on in Utah throughout his career—Kennecott Mines, the Spiral Jetty and human interactions with the Great Salt Lake and Dugway Proving Ground. The talk will be directly followed with a moderated discussion will begin with the panelists. Discussion topics include environmental photography, historical and contemporary geopolitics, environmental ecology and military testing in the West.
“This artist talk and panel discussion is certain to be a lively discussion about U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground from many different angles, said Katie Lee-Koven, executive director and chief curator of NEHMA. Consuming over 800,000 acres of land in Utah, it is an important part of Utah history and is still a testing facility today. This type of event allows the museum to expand learning about what we have on view in our galleries in an unexpected way. How often do you have an author, photographer, ecologist and supervisor of a top-secret biological and chemical research facility all on the same stage? You don’t want to miss this.”
Proving Ground opened at NEHMA in mid-September and is on display through December 14.
The artist talk and panel discussion are sponsored by the O.C. Tanner Foundation, College of Science, S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney the College of Natural Resources, Caine College of the Arts,Utah Public Radio and the University Inn.
For more information on Proving Ground and USU’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, visit https://artmuseum.usu.edu/.