2019 Festival | Photo + Synthesis

October 12 to December 21, 2019  Hudson, New York

For our fall Festival, LightField Arts has chosen five artists whose work focuses on the Hudson River Valley and climate change.

The Festival presents landscape art that brims with imaginative responses to the tensions of its time by drawing a through line between: contemporary landscape photography, mid-19th century landscape painting, data visualization art, and tree ring science.

Participating artists contribute newly commissioned and existing work. Our roster includes: Sarah Bird, Tim Davis, Christopher Griffith, Genevieve Hoffman, Tanya Marcuse, Daniel McCabe, Laura Plageman, and paintings by Hudson River School artists.

Alongside these works, LightField exhibits the art produced in its annual Young Photographers Workshop.

©  The Catskills, 1859, Asher Brown Durand

© The Catskills, 1859, Asher Brown Durand

Artists of the Hudson River School were alarmed about the severe deforestation and industrialization underway in the Hudson River Valley. Their paintings helped spark America’s conservationist impulses, and helped knit the fragile cultural union that kept America whole past the Civil War.

Jump to today, an equally polarized time, politically and culturally. Tree scientists use the Hudson River Valley for climate change research because it is a living biome that is home to one of the most diverse tree populations on the planet, and because it still holds 400-year-old trees.

Commissioned Artists

LightField Arts has commissioned new work centered on the Hudson River Valley from photographers and artists Sarah Bird, Christopher Griffith, Genevieve Hoffman, and Laura Plageman. Their original new art will be in part informed by partnerships with the Lamont Doherty Tree Ring Lab.

© Sarah Bird, Heritage Redwood

© Sarah Bird, Heritage Redwood


Contemporary photographer Sarah Bird, an American artist, will re-imagine landscapes in the Hudson River Valley as inspired by the Hudson River School of Art.

Sarah Bird is an interdisciplinary artist and a PhD candidate at UC Santa Cruz in Film and Digital Media. Bird’s current photographs focus on trees, elevating them to their essential place in our web of being, and reveal the beauty and biological wealth of these great protagonists of the living world. Sarah grew up in France, the UK, and the United States. She earned a BA from Amherst College and an MFA from California College of the Arts. Honors include the Arts Corps Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is based in Brooklyn, New York and Santa Cruz, California.

©  Christopher Griffith, Rings, 2019. From the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory Tree Ring Lab.

© Christopher Griffith, Rings, 2019. From the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory Tree Ring Lab.


Contemporary photographer Christopher Griffith will highlight landscape details of the Hudson River Valley in order to strip away “story” and allow structural features to take center stage.

Born in Canada and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Christopher Griffith is a commercial and art photographer who has gained both critical and commercial success for his clean, minimalist approach and intense graphic imagery. Monographs include STATES (Powerhouse 2000); FALL (Powerhouse 2004) a macro analysis of the stunning show of colour and texture in Autumn leaves; and BLOWN (Auditorium Editions 2009), an abstract study of blown out tire treads collected from the highways of America. Christopher balances his time between steady work in the advertising world (clients include American Express, Maserati, Deutsche Bank, and Sony), and personal art projects. His books have won a variety of awards from D&AD, Art Directors Club, Communication Arts and Graphis. He lives with his family in a Dutch barn in upstate New York.

©  Genevieve Hoffman, Hemlock Tree Ring Data, 2019

© Genevieve Hoffman, Hemlock Tree Ring Data, 2019


This data visualization takes raw tree ring growth data from a hemlock tree born in 1579 in Mohonk Preserve, and sampled in 2000. Stay tuned for more details as we develop the story.

Genevieve Hoffman is an artist and designer working at the intersections of research, data, science, sustainability and design. She is especially concerned with the planned obsolescence built into the disposable culture of our digital era, as well as the relationship between technology and the natural resources that make it possible. Recently, she has been exploring non-monetary currencies, the forces and interrelated systems of the global economy, and the infrastructure that makes it all run. She has spoken about and presented her work at various institutions, including the Rhode Island School of Design (RI), University of Georgia (GA), SUNY Stonybrook (NY), New York Hall of Science(NY), School of Visual Arts (NY), New York University (NY), and the University of Buffalo (NY). She recently completed a research residency at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, where she received a Master's degree in Research Arts.

©  Daniel McCabe, Platte Clove, NY, 2019

© Daniel McCabe, Platte Clove, NY, 2019

©  Laura Plageman, Hemlock, Mohonk Preserve, NY 2019

© Laura Plageman, Hemlock, Mohonk Preserve, NY 2019


Landscape photographer Laura Plageman will respond to landscapes of the Hudson River Valley to play with photographic truth and distortion. She is interested in making pictures that examine the natural world as a scene of mystery, beauty, and constant change — transformed both by its own design and human presence.

Laura Plageman is an artist and educator who lives and works in Oakland, CA. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and institutions across the United States and internationally. She earned a BA at Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT) and an MFA from the California College of the Arts (San Francisco, CA).

Featured Artists

Other participating artists will exhibit photography about the purity (and not) of landscape, botany, and taxonomy—subjects whose roots go back to the very beginnings of photography.

©  Tim Davis, Upstate Event Horizon

© Tim Davis, Upstate Event Horizon


When I lived in Manhattan, I rarely photographed there. I found myself driving through tunnels and over bridges to find things that were less seen. The pictures in UPSTATE EVENT HORIZON are about that feeling of being free from the gravity of the dominant culture, the commercial pressure, the savvy eye. They search for and find a world that is odd, eccentric, rich and evocative, if a bit past its prime, and not always facing forward.

As Nabokov and Cheever, Sternfeld and Crewdson set their occult dramas in the suburbs, I am looking farther afield, to the agricultural regions, small towns and struggling cities beyond the commuter’s range. I am looking for the secret pleasures of the provinces, the underseen but deeply significant evocations of both my childhood and current home.

Tim Davis is an artist, writer, and musician who lives in Tivoli, NY and teaches photography at Bard College. His latest project, I’m Looking Through You, will be published by Aperture in 2020. The Tang Museum at Skidmore College recently showed a large survey of recent work in photography, video, sound, sculpture and performance entitled “When We Are Dancing, I Get Ideas.” A catalog of that show will appear in 2020 as well.

©  Tanya Marcuse, Woven No 16

© Tanya Marcuse, Woven No 16


Woven references millefleurs backgrounds of medieval hunting and falconry tapestry. Marcuse composes flora and fauna over the course of several weeks, then makes 5’ x 10’ photographs of the array. Allegorical and aesthetic elements such as mice or pokeweed convey evil or simply enrich the color palette. The result is a sense of opulence that verges on excess, a plenty that verges on plunder. 

Tanya studied Art History and Studio Art at Oberlin and earned her MFA from Yale. In between, on a year-long Thomas J. Watson Fellowship she lived in the rainforest with a small group of Indians, photographing and writing. Her photographs are held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the George Eastman Museum, among others. In 2002, she received a Guggenheim fellowship to pursue her project Undergarments and Armor. In 2005, she embarked on a three-part, fourteen-year project, Fruitless | Fallen | Woven, moving from iconic, serial photographs of trees in Fruitless to lush, immersive, allegorical works in Fallen and Woven. Tanya is a student of martial arts and boxing as a method of cultivating mental and physical concentration and discipline. Tanya’s latest book is the three-part Fruitless | Fallen | Woven (Radius Press, 2019).

Commissioned for 2020 LightField Festival

© Bryan Schumaat, From Grays The Mountain Sends

© Bryan Schumaat, From Grays The Mountain Sends


Contemporary photographer Bryan Schutmaat, an American artist from Texas, will re-imagine landscapes in the Hudson River Valley as inspired by the Hudson River School of Art.

©  Victoria Sambunaris, Untitled (Night Train), Galveston, Texas

© Victoria Sambunaris, Untitled (Night Train), Galveston, Texas


Contemporary photographer Victoria Sambunaris, an American landscape artist, will re-imagine landscapes in the Hudson River Valley as inspired by the Hudson River School of Art.