The Evolution of Paleontological Art
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS
Fossils have stirred the imagination globally for thousands of years, starting well before they were recognized as the remains of once-living organisms and proxies of former worlds. This volume samples the history of art about fossils and the visual conceptualization of their significance starting with biblical and mythological depictions, extending to renditions of ancient life as it flourished in long-vanished habitats, and on to a modern understanding that fossil art conveys lessons for the betterment of the human condition. The 29 papers and accompanying artwork illustrate how art about fossils has come to be a significant teaching tool not only about evolution of past life, but also about conservation of our planet for the benefit of future generations.
Significance of New Harmony, Indiana, USA, to nineteenth-century paleontological investigations of North America: Progressive education through arts and sciences
Published:February 24, 2022
William S. Elliott Jr., 2022. "Significance of New Harmony, Indiana, USA, to nineteenth-century paleontological investigations of North America: Progressive education through arts and sciences", The Evolution of Paleontological Art, Renee M. Clary, Gary D. Rosenberg, Dallas C. Evans
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William Maclure, Father of North American Geology, partnered with Robert Owen in 1825 to establish an experimental socialistic community focusing on equitable reform in New Harmony, Indiana, USA. Artists, educators, and natural scientists recruited from Philadelphia arrived on a keel boat named Philanthropist in January 1826. Upon their arrival, Maclure established the New Harmony schools using a modified Pestalozzian educational approach under the guidance of Madame Fretageot. The New Harmony schools focused on practical education through direct observation of nature as well as a curriculum involving drawing, music, science, writing, and trade skills such as carpentry, engraving, and printing. Furthermore, the integration of arts and sciences with hands-on experiences led to a productive community of natural scientists who published significant works on the conchology, geology, ichthyology, and paleontology of North America.
In the mid-nineteenth century, hand-drawn illustrations were reproduced through engravings, etchings, or lithography prior to the invention of the daguerreotype process in 1839, collodion wet plate process in 1851, and flexible celluloid film in 1888. In particular, the published works of David Dale Owen demonstrate the increasing importance of evolving reproduction techniques to paleontological illustration as well as the significance of hand-drawn artistic renderings. Interestingly, the modified Pestalozzian educational approach introduced by Maclure in New Harmony has several implications for the modern classroom. For instance, recent studies suggest that drawing improves spatial reasoning skills and increases comprehension of complex scientific principles. Likewise, engaging students in the drawing of fossils delivers a meaningful learning experience in the paleontology classroom.