Landscapes of an alternative nature

Something that every curator knows, says the experienced Alison Nordström, is that when you do a landscape show in a museum, everybody's happy.

"You're putting up these tiny rectangles, and the space is like it's filled with fabulous windows -- all of these glorious visions of the land. Each place you look takes you somewhere," says Nordström, director and senior curator of the Southeast Museum of Photography at Daytona Beach Community College.

Nordström loves landscapes, too, but in keeping with the teaching institution's mission to bend the common view, she says, "We knew that we wanted to do a landscaped photography exhibition in an unusual way."

Just opened and continuing through summer is "Sight/Site: Visualizing Earth at the Millennium," an inventive, international, interdisciplinary overview that breaks down almost 300 works into six major subexhibits that make a statement on the environment.

There's a documentary approach to the Florida-based "Barrier Islands" by Marianne Alvarez, with text written by marine biologists. One of the world's best aerial photographers Marilyn Bridges offers a from-the-heavens perspective in "This Land is Your Land." Other parts of the investigation are "Natural Abstractions: Photographs of Land and Sea" by Lee Dunkel; "Against the Grain, a Visual Study of Labor" by Mark Maio; "Tall Tree" by Seth Dickerman; and "Landshapes: Records of Actions," an anchoring array by many artists.

"We don't want people to wax romantic about their relationship to the natural environment," says Nordström. "I'm very hopeful that people will come away from the shows with the notion that somehow they are stewards for the earth. And certainly Florida is one of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet."