It also meant learning about all the damage it has suffered throughout the years. The Everglades once covered almost 3 million acres, but now it is less than half its original size. “In the past hundred years, people have been digging canals and building dams in the Everglades so they could take water out of it, develop agriculture and build homes,” says Dr. Tom Van Lent, senior scientist at the Everglades Foundation. “We’ve built so many canals and drained so much water that the natural flow is interrupted.”
|Great Egret, National Park Service Photo by Rodney Cammauf|
Still, the Everglades continues to be the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, housing numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the Florida panther (nps.org). I've had the opportunity to explore some of it by airboat and kayak, and the aerial views flying out of South Florida might be some of my favorite ever.
|Everglades Aerial Photo by Mac Stone|
I recently came across a South Florida art exhibit with very compelling messages about protecting our environment - messages too important not to share. The exhibition, named "There Are no Other Everglades in the World," features art work by Jim Couper, professor emeritus in the Department of Art and Art History at Florida International University, and the founding director of the Art Museum at FIU. The collection is on view from now until Nov.1 at The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU in Miami.
|Coot Bay, 2010. Oil on canvas. Jim Couper|
"I never feel as inspired as when I am in nature - as far away as possible from any traces of human intervention. My work is a humble acknowledgment of the wonder that is being taken from us. (...) Development, industrial agriculture, water mismanagement, road building and even an attempted airport constructed in the heart of the Everglades provide a sad testament to our treatment of a place so special. It is this remaining beauty and wonder, and my concern for its future, that provide the basis for my work. I want my paintings to reflect a celebration of this treasure, to concentrate on the essence of this hallowed place. " Jim CouperIf you are a South Florida local, there will also be a panel discussion about conserving the Everglades Saturday, Oct. 3rd at 3p.m. at the Frost Art Museum (free and open to the public). Panelists include the artist Jim Couper as well as fellow Everglades experts.
Have you ever visited South Florida and the Everglades?
Top image: Florida Bay, 2015. Oil on canvas. Jim Couper