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Mountains and Memory


Robert McGrath E. Libri


From Egypts Abu Simbel to South Dakotas Mount Rushmore to Tan Swie Hians Earth Art Museum in Chinas Quingdao National Forest, mountains have long been shaped to resemble human personages, including pharaohs, presidents, and painters. Mountains and Memory explores this practice and traces the history of anthropomorphismthe attribution of human qualities to non-human natureas expressed in the form of carvings on mountainous rock formations. Anthropomorphism can be understood as either perceptual, wherein natural forms are perceived as bearing human likeness, as is the case with New Hampshires Old Man of the Mountain, or conceptual, wherein mountains are shaped sculpturally into human form, exemplified by Mount Rushmore. In both cases, the author argues, memory is enlisted to impose meaning on otherwise inchoate rock formations. In addition to exploring the theme through examples of actual mountains, the author also considers paintings and prints that impose human forms onto mountains and discusses projects that are still in development. In its range and attention, Mountains and Memory offers a unique look at mountains as the subject of both art and collective experience.
 
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