Columbia Museum of Art presents (Un)Settled: The Landscape in American Art

June 6, 2024

Major traveling exhibition of Art Bridges Cohort Program’s American South Consortium

The Columbia Museum of Art presents (Un)Settled: The Landscape in American Art, a collaborative exhibition that explores the rich, complicated, and evolving topic of the American landscape, from its origins in 19th-century painting to the present. The CMA is one of four participating museums in the Art Bridges Cohort Program’s American South Consortium, the institutional partnership responsible for this exhibition. (Un)Settled opens at the CMA on Saturday, June 15, with an afternoon of celebratory programming and runs through Sunday, September 8.

“In collaboration with three nationally acclaimed museum partners through the Art Bridges Cohort Program, this show brings together selections of American art and material culture that beautifully reflect upon and respond to both natural and manmade moments, providing visitors with a rich experience,” says CMA Executive Director Della Watkins. “I highly recommend visiting to enjoy the views!”

This multidisciplinary show features over 60 works of art in conversation across time and space, foregrounding multiple historic and cultural perspectives on landscape as a hallmark of national identity.

(Un)Settled is presented in thematic sections, each presenting historic artworks in conversation with modern and contemporary examples. The variety of media and makers throughout the exhibition contribute to a more inclusive conversation about the American landscape and its evolving relationship to a concept of national identity. To tell a more comprehensive history, the curatorial selection recognizes the voices of Indigenous artists, women, and artists of color.

Why (Un)Settled?

By bringing together objects made over the course of 200 years, (Un)Settled highlights shifting attitudes toward landscape’s relevance and resonance in American art. The unsettling concept is multifaceted and recognizes the ongoing conversations centered on the landscape as an enduring cultural and historic touchpoint. A throughline of environmental awareness, for example, emerges between Thomas Cole’s View of the White Mountains (1827) and Jacqueline Bishop’s electrifying painting After the Rain (Methane) (2014–15). Similarly, contemporary artist Tom McGrath cites Albert Bierstadt’s romanticized topographical views of the American West as inspiration for his panoramic representation of the gridded traffic patterns in downtown Los Angeles.

The juxtaposition of a traditional 19th-century Coast Salish basket with a contemporary response by glass artist Dan Friday (Lummi Nation, Coast Salish) brings to light the strength of tradition and memory sustained over generations.

William Christenberry’s photographs record specific places, primarily in the western part of his home state of Alabama, and reflect upon memory, transformation, and physical change wrought by time on landscape and built environment. Similarly, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe’s portraits of the Gullah Geechee on Daufuskie Island address cultural heritage and, in the artists’ words, “keep for the eyes of history the way Daufuskie was.”

“From the local scenery to national parks, the individual to the communal, our cultural values and beliefs can be shaped by our surroundings,” says Erin Monroe, Krieble Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. “(Un)Settled strives to explore ideas that are topical and relevant to today’s audiences such as: land use and preservation, environmental impact, politicization of borders, and the rise and decline of structures.”

For the CMA’s presentation of this unique traveling exhibition, the museum will include a selection of recently conserved prints, drawings, and watercolors by the Charleston Renaissance artist Anna Heyward Taylor, whose work engages the topic of landscape in South Carolina and abroad.

Collaboration North and South

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford, CT), is the lead institution in the Art Bridges Cohort Program, centered on collection-sharing initiatives with its three partner museums: the Columbia Museum of Art (Columbia, SC), the Mobile Museum of Art (Mobile, AL), and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (Montgomery, AL). Together, the four institutions are known as the American South Consortium.

(Un)Settled uniquely brings together artworks from each of the partners’ collections to broaden the story of American art. Representation of past and present, and regions across the United States and in Latin America, present a more expansive and complex view of landscape and its relationship to identity.

The exhibition schedule is:
• Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, January 26 – April 14, 2024
• Columbia Museum of Art, June 15 – September 8, 2024
• Mobile Museum of Art, October 12, 2024 – February 2, 2025
• Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, June 12, 2025 – September 14, 2025

An Art Bridges Foundation partnership

(Un)Settled: The Landscape in American Art, a midsized exhibition, is the second phase of the new and noteworthy collaboration, slated to continue through 2026. Funded by the Art Bridges Foundation, this innovative cross-regional exhibition partnership explores new ways of interpreting art and the American experience through dynamic exhibitions and an array of complementary public programs.

This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year,
multi-institutional partnership formed by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art as part of the Art Bridges Cohort Program.

The Art Bridges Foundation, a national nonprofit organization founded by philanthropist Alice Walton, also recently awarded a grant to the CMA as part of its national Access for All initiative, to encourage people to return to museums after COVID-19 brought declines in revenue, membership, staffing, and attendance. Access for All builds upon the multi-year Art Bridges Cohort Program, launched in March 2023.

With the support of Access for All, general admission to the CMA is free for all South Carolina residents from May 24 through September 1, 2024.

Opening Celebration for (Un)Settled
Saturday, June 15 | Refreshments 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. | Performance 2:00 – 2:45 p.m.
Celebrate the opening of new exhibition (Un)Settled: The Landscape in American Art with sweet treats and beverages from Main Street Bakery and a multidisciplinary performance featuring artist and poet Marlanda Dekine. Inspired by themes in (Un)Settled, Dekine joins pianist Moses Andrews III and dancer Starlitt Miller on stage to recite selected works from her book Thresh & Hold. Before the performance, get a sneak peek at the first episode of the (Un)Settled video podcast. Copies of Thresh & Hold available for purchase before and after the performance. Free with membership or admission. Admission is free for all SC residents.

(Un)Settled: The Landscape in American Art is presented through the support of our generous sponsors and grantors. Silver Sponsors: Dr. Suzanne R. Thorpe and Dr. John W. Baynes. Bronze Sponsors: Councilwoman Allison Terracio, Richland County Council; Colonial Life; Barbara B. Boyd. Friend Sponsors: Hotel Trundle; Dr. and Mrs. Allen J. Coles, III. Patron Sponsors: Haynsworth, Sinkler, Boyd; Suzi and Robert Clawson; Beth and Matthew Richardson; Cool Care Heating, Air, Plumbing & Refrigeration; Prisma Health; Lefkowitz Plastic Surgery and Aesthetics. Grantors: City of Columbia; Experience Columbia SC; Richland County Government; South Carolina Arts Commission; Discover South Carolina.


About the CMA

The Columbia Museum of Art is a charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to lifelong learning and community enrichment for all. Located in the heart of downtown Columbia, S.C., the CMA ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and creative educational programs. At the heart of the CMA and its programs is its collection, which encompasses 7,000 works and spans 5,000 years of art history. Established in 1950, the CMA now welcomes more than 150,000 visitors annually and is a catalyst for community creativity and education, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds. It is the recipient of a National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a National Art Education Association award for its contributions to arts education, a National Park Foundation Award, and two Governor’s Awards for the Arts for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina. In order to serve even more audiences, the CMA underwent a transformation. Funded by a successful capital campaign, the two-year renovation project garnered new collection galleries with a progressive thematic layout, new studios for artmaking, cutting-edge program and event spaces, and an entrance on Main Street. Overall, more than 15,000 square feet of functional space were added to the building’s existing footprint. To learn more, visit


About Art Bridges Foundation

Art Bridges Foundation is the vision of philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton. The mission of Art Bridges is to expand access to American art in all regions across the United States. Since 2017, Art Bridges has been creating and supporting programs that bring outstanding works of American art out of storage and into communities. Art Bridges partners with a growing network of over 220 museums of all sizes and locations on nearly 700 projects across the nation, impacting over 4.1 million people, to provide financial and strategic support for exhibition development, loans from the Art Bridges Collection, and programs designed to educate, inspire, and deepen engagement with local audiences. The Art Bridges Collection represents an expanding vision of American art from the 19th century to present day and encompasses multiple media and voices. For more information, visit