• Emily Leon, Loop to Emory Peak at Big Bend National Park, 36 x 72", Oil on canvas, 2020
  • Emily Leon, Loop to Emory Peak at Big Bend National Park (detail), 36 x 72", Oil on canvas, 2020
  • Emily Leon, Loop to Emory Peak at Big Bend National Park (detail), 36 x 72", Oil on canvas, 2020
  • Emily Leon, Studies at Walnut Creek Park, 7 x 15", Oil on panels, 2020
  • Emily Leon, Sunset #2, Oil on canvas, 5 x 5", 2021

In the era of contemporary art, artists find themselves delving into styles inspired by past artist movements. Although landscape painting can be considered an age old genre mostly associated with an interest in portraying nature, there is something to be said about the emotional experience that is different to other subject matter. Landscapes evoke a kind of otherworldly effect on us so much that it has continued to attract artists and viewers regardless of age, gender, or nationality. Per the definition, ‘landscape art’ is the depiction of natural landscape usually with a focus on mountains, trees, forests, valleys, coastlines, etc. and often does not contain humanistic elements. Well known landscape paintings, such as The Oxbow by Thomas Cole or Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by Thomas Moran, throughout history have used scenes of nature to tell stories and illustrate ideas. The idealistic and pastoral settings in nineteenth century landscape paintings aimed at proposing the future prospect of an American nation, but the path to improvements and civilizations would mean clearing away the untouched American landscape. Although these famous paintings tell a fascinating story of the land of long ago, it is necessary to understand who’s experiences and cultures are visible and who is left out and marginalized. 

In my works I aim to recapture the “untouched” landscapes that once existed, taking inspiration from multiple sources to create dramatic scenes of monuments in the national parks around the country. Years from now these national monuments will not look nearly the same or potentially not be around anymore, therefore through these works I will assert a message of conservation of our natural world as well as appreciation for the nostalgic landscapes that are so close to being changed forever.