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UC Berkeley Press Release

Sentinel Dome at Yosemite
A panoramic collage of Yosemite's Sentinel Dome combines recent and historic photographs. (Photos courtesy Berkeley Art Museum)

"Yosemite in Time" exhibit opens at Berkeley Art Museum

– Two San Francisco photographers set out for Yosemite National Park in the summer of 2001 with writer-historian Rebecca Solnit to retrace the steps of famed photographer Eadweard Muybridge, in hopes of better understanding the artistry in his photographs taken there well over a century ago.

On that visit and four subsequent ones, Solnit and photographers Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe learned a lot about Muybridge, and other noted Yosemite photographers, and about the park. They also gained new insights about the ways the passage of time is experienced, frozen, represented and measured in photos.

"Yosemite in Time" is an exhibit of the trio's work in the valley from 2001 to 2003, along with photographs taken by Muybridge in 1868 and 1872, by Carleton Watkins in the 1860s and '70s, and by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston in the 1930s and '40s. It opens Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

"Yosemite . reminds you . that your own timescale is tiny compared to the forces of geology, erosion and evolution," reads exhibit text, excerpted from a forthcoming book, "Yosemite in Time: Ice Ages, Tree Clocks, Ghost Rivers," by Solnit, Klett and Wolfe.

Some of the exhibit's 40 photos and digital reproductions - most of them black-and-white, some in color - have been combined to create large-scale panoramic collages more than 10 feet long, with earlier photographs inserted.

There are photos of Yosemite favorites such as Vernal Falls, Panorama Rock, Cathedral Rock, Glacier Point, and the reflection of El Capitan in the Merced River that meanders through the valley floor.

Photo collage of Lake Tenaya
The photos in this collage of Lake Tenaya span 130 years and four photographers.

One set of photographs show a spectacular Lake Tenaya as recorded by Muybridge in 1872, by Weston in 1937, by Adams in 1942, and by Klett and Wolfe in 2002.

One photo that Adams took in 1940 of a Jeffrey pine at Sentinel Dome is contrasted with a photo by Klett and Wolfe showing the tree shriveled and dead from drought in 2002.

President Lincoln signed legislation in 1864 turning Yosemite Valley into a public trust in order to protect the home to awe-inspiring rock formations, giant sequoias, waterfalls, forests and meadows. Work by naturalist John Muir to protect the meadows around the valley led to creation of Yosemite National Park 26 years later. Today, the 1,189-square-mile haven hosts millions of visitors annually.

The exhibit, up through Dec. 23, also includes six original albumen plates by Muybridge, loaned to the exhibit by The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.

Solnit, author of eight books including "Savage Dreams; A Journey into the Landscape Wars of the American West" (1994) and "River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West" (2003), will give a gallery talk about the exhibit at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the museum.

She will join a panel discussion at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9 about how contemporary photography reveals our changing ideas about nature, and how the aesthetics and meaning of Yosemite have changed over the last century or so.

Also participating in the discussion in the museum theater will be Wolfe, Klett, UC Berkeley art historian Margaretta Lovell and Carolyn Merchant, a UC Berkeley professor of environmental history, philosophy and ethics.

Wolfe, Klett and Solnit also will sign copies of their book at the event.

For more information on the exhibit and related events, see: www.bampfa.berkeley.edu. The museum is located at 2626 Bancroft Way.