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Manifest Responsibility: Environmentalism and the Art of the American Landscape at Loyola
Martin Johnson Heade, Newburyport Marshes: Approaching Storm, c. 1871, Oil on canvas, Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection.

CHICAGO.- In this moment of increasing environmental awareness, Manifest Destiny/Manifest Responsibility: Environmentalism and the Art of the American Landscape explores America's longstanding relationship to the land traditionally considered its national birthright. Viewers of this exhibition of paintings, prints and drawings from the collection of the Terra Foundation for American Art will contemplate the cultural, spiritual, and ecological ramifications of their environmental "footprints."

For almost three decades, the Terra Foundation for American Art has fostered the understanding and enjoyment of American art in Chicago and internationally. Recognizing the importance of experiencing original works of art, the foundation provides opportunities for interaction and study, beginning with the presentation and growth of its own art collection in Chicago. To further cross-cultural dialogue on American art, the foundation supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research, and educational programs. Implicit in such activities is the belief that art has the potential both to distinguish cultures and to unite them.

The Terra Foundation for American Art was established in 1978 by businessman and art collector Daniel J. Terra (1911–1996), who believed that the art of the United States is a dynamic and powerful expression of the nation’s identity. The governing mission of the nascent foundation was to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the country’s rich artistic and cultural heritage through the acquisition, preservation, exhibition, interpretation, research, and scholarship of works of American art. This goal was first put into practice with Daniel Terra’s own growing American art collection and the museum in which he planned to house it.

With great determination, Daniel Terra continued to shape the foundation and its museum. In 1980, with a collection of approximately fifty paintings, a small governing board of directors, and a handful of employees, the foundation opened the Terra Museum of American Art. Located outside of Chicago in Evanston, Illinois, the museum both displayed the foundation’s collection and held special exhibitions of American art. Two years later, in recognition of his unflagging effort in promoting American art and culture, among other contributions, Daniel Terra was appointed Ambassador-at-Large for Cultural Affairs—a position created specifically for him by President Reagan.

Ambassador Terra’s plans to bring American art to broad audiences were ambitious. The collection of fifty canvases grew to encompass hundreds of paintings and works on paper. In 1987, the Terra Museum of American Art moved from suburban Evanston to a busy stretch of Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, and in 1992 the foundation expanded its reach to Europe, opening the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny in France. Ambassador Terra had a longstanding interest in the work of artists associated with the Norman village of Giverny, the site of a popular international artists colony beginning in the late-nineteenth century and home to celebrated French painter Claude Monet. The Musée d’Art Américain Giverny, which is open spring through fall, first exhibited paintings from the Terra collection by American artists who sojourned in France. Soon, however, exhibition and education programs encompassed a wider range of American artists and topics, most with a transatlantic focus.

By the time of his death in 1996, Ambassador Terra had created a board of directors dedicated to interpreting and fulfilling the foundation’s mission and provided a generous endowment. In addition to supporting the exhibition and education programs of two museums, the Terra Foundation has fostered scholarship on American art by underwriting scholarly symposia and publications, and by awarding dissertation fellowships, research assistantships, and other education grants. Many of these awards have been offered in partnership with institutions such as the College Art Association, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art. Since 2001, the foundation has administered the Terra Summer Residency program, in Giverny, which affords scholars and artists the opportunity to work within a community of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural exchange.

The Terra Foundation for American Art has continued to grow, building on its past successes and pursuing its mission in new ways. In 2003, after conducting a comprehensive two-year study to plan the foundation’s future mission and goals, the board of directors of the Terra Foundation for American Art decided to expand the reach of the foundation and to close the Terra Museum in Chicago at the end of October 2004. The museum’s high level of operation and many achievements stand as benchmarks for the foundation as it redirects its assets and strengthens its role as a leading advocate for American art.

Chicago continues to be the headquarters of the Terra Foundation for American Art, which is dedicated to making the city a vital center for American art. Toward that goal, the foundation has lent approximately fifty paintings to the Art Institute of Chicago for a dynamic, combined installation of American art that opened to the public in April 2005. The exciting Terra-Art Institute collaboration also includes a loan to the museum of close to 350 of the foundation’s works on paper, which will be available for study at the Art Institute’s Department of Prints and Drawings.

The foundation also continues to focus on international initiatives, building on the programs of its museum in France and partnerships with other European institutions to encourage the exploration of American art through an international lens. Signaling its belief in the power of art to both distinguish cultures and to unite them, the foundation grants international loans of art from its collection and sponsors fellowships, symposia, and exhibitions for audiences overseas.

The Terra Foundation recognizes the importance of experiencing original works of art and actively collects paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and other objects representing the fullest achievement in American art from the colonial period through 1945. The foundation also continues to share its collection with the public, and selections can be seen at the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny, the Art Institute of Chicago, and at other arts institutions for temporary exhibitions.

The year 2005 marked the official inauguration of the foundation’s expanded grant program, which is designed to engage individuals around the globe in an enriched and enriching dialogue on American art through exhibitions, education projects, and academic and public programs. The foundation will be supporting and collaborating on innovative projects that are ambitious in scope, outreach, and impact as it builds on its past to create a future for the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States.

This exhibition is organized by the Loyola University Museum of Art in partnership with the Terra Foundation for American Art. Terra Foundation for American Art is the lead sponsor.

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