Ricardo Chavez // Contributing Writer
There is an unprecedented beauty about the Everglades that makes it one of the most magnificent natural ecosystems in the world. There is a freshness to it. An atmosphere that shouldn’t be tampered with by the hands of man. Within it, you will find splendors hidden about the area that harbor a brilliance that hasn’t been regarded by the eyes of many.
However, the Everglades is only a glimpse, a remnant of a pure land that stands firm amongst the litter and pollution that plagues the very ground we walk on.
Jim Couper, founding director of the Art Museum at Florida International University, has recognized the decline of the once pure natural ecosystem.
“My work is a humble acknowledgement of the wonder that has been taken from us,” Couper said.
He has honed his artistic abilities to properly convey the beauty of the Everglades through the eyes of a witness who has stood before its elegance, and has witnessed its slow deterioration. It is for this reason that his paintings do not feature people, but rather a first person depiction of the spectacles that are visible within the national park. Therefore, it is amongst the freshwater, amid the untouched wilderness of the Everglades that Couper is able to craft his astonishing works of art. They act as a sanctuary from a world that lacks the care necessary to preserve an ecosystem that is often taken for granted.
One aspect of Couper’s painting that he successfully accentuates is his surreal and pristine use of color. When visiting the Everglades, one’s eyes may venture off into the setting of the sun, when the sky releases hues of navy and crimson that seem to envelop the atmosphere.
If you have witnessed such occurrences, then many of Couper’s works may seem vaguely familiar. This comes to show the sheer prowess of Couper’s skills. His paintings accurately capture the utter beauty that one may recognize as a result of their own experiences in the national park.
When perusing the exhibition, one is not simply viewing a painting etched onto a canvass. Instead, one is looking through a window that offered a remarkable view of unblemished nature. Couper’s painting “Night Sky” displayed a unique view of the heavens that can only be witnessed in an atmosphere where lights are absent. It was by far the largest and most detailed portrait in all of the exhibition.
Although Couper’s paintings are truly breathtaking, they are not merely an idea placed in a museum to be witnessed and glorified. These paintings portray a natural beauty that is in need of preservation and protection.
The Everglades is in need of our assistance, for we are the only ones who can purify its soiled waters, littered grounds, and the endangered wildlife that depend on its wide expanse. This is what Couper encourages us to dwell on as we examine his incredible exhibition.