M&M Bucket List: National Park Photography Project

This semester my friend Madison and I created a bucket list that consists of venturing to all of the cool places in the College Station, Houston, Brenham, Waco, and Austin area. Our most recent expedition was fairly close to home, The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The museum itself was amazing; I did not come in with any expectations but when I left I was beyond impressed. What I found particularly awe-inspiring was the new National Parks Photography Project gallery.

This display is what photographer and wanderlust dreams are made of. The exhibit is centered around the centennial anniversary of America’s National Park Service in 2016, and it focuses on the valuable role that the visual image (painting or photograph) has played in the history as well as the creation of national parks.

FDR Quote

Overall the display is a modern minimalist look but at the center of the room there is a core, rustic display that pays tribute to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vital role in establishing national parks. Across the exhibit you can also see quotes from Abraham Lincoln and George Bush senior painted on the walls. What makes the display so powerful is that it allows the photos to cohesively merge together, and honor all of the nation’s leaders who played a key role in park development. All of the photos, aside from the paintings, are black and white.  It is only when you reach the center of the exhibit that you experience a burst of vibrant color. The center exhibit honoring FDR consists of art from early painters and photographers, which may be why it is the only area with color.

The majority of this exhibit consists of the classic black and white photography of American photographer Marc Burns, who set out to all 59 of the United State’s national parks to create this collection of photos. He is one of many who have been inspired by the unquestionable beauty of national parks. On the national parks service website they have a section dedicated to literary and visual art created by various artists. They are even categorized according to each park, so you literally have a poem for every national park occasion you may encounter in life.

Here’s a preview of the majestic poetry that is nature courtesy of the national parks service website  (cue the rolling of a single tear down you cheek):

“Everglades Botanical Villanelle” by Karla Linn Merrifield

Green inspirits the Everglades’ deep night

and teaches us to bow to wind by day.

Breathe, breathe into us; may we dream thy light.

Slash pine, mangrove, cypress, bay know the right

path—such needled saints, leaved martyrs are they.

Trees inspirit the Everglades’ deep night.

Bladderwort, floating heart, spatterdock bright,

and mild turtle grass of Florida Bay,

breathe, breathe into us; may we dream thy light.

By sun, by moon, pith to peat in life’s flight,

algae and palm alike point the good way.

Ferns inspirit the Everglades’ deep night.

Epiphyte, orchid, sedge, and reed give sight,

instill wonder, color Earth again gay;

breathe, breathe into us; may we dream thy light.

May gumbo-limbos grow full height,

and lichen on nurse logs prosper, I pray.

Green inspirits the Everglades’ deep night.

Breathe, breathe into us; may we dream thy light.

Lincoln Quote and Photos

For those of you who have been inspired by this article to view the National Parks Photography Project exhibit at the George Bush Presidential Library, it is located on 1000 George Bush West Road in College Station (next the Bush School of Government and Public Service). Go now because the exhibit ends March 21st!

–Morgan Crider

[All photos taken by Morgan Crider]

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