The Blair Museum's 2018 exhibit Into the Woods presents an abundant selection of European Woodland and Mountainous lithophanic images. The first glance at one of these scenes draws the viewer into an enchanted vignette and introduces visitors to an innovation in lighting and ceramics begun in Germany and France in the late 1820s. This movement peaked by the 1850s when high production by many manufactures provided lithophanes for both royalty and middle classes. Several technical steps go into making a lithophane: first an image is etched into a piece a wax; a plaster mold is made over the wax and allowed to dry; ceramic slip is pored into the mold and finally the impression is fired in a kiln- which produces the thin porcelain lithophanes. Only when lithophanes are back-lit will the thin plaques reveal the hidden vistas, stories, or show surprising scenes or figures.
This exhibit highlights Nature as a meeting place for groups of people: lovers, children, hunters and workers-as well as for the animals and birds of the woods. The natural locis of mountains and streams is imbued in world cultures with magical qualities as well as tranquility.
Our connection to Nature is sometimes lost in todays world of technology overload and busy schedules. A frame of mind called "Nature Conetedness" is the extent in which individuals include nature as part of thier identity. It includes an understanding of Nature and everything it is made up of, even the parts that are not pleasing. There are three components that make up Nature Conectedness: The cognitive component is the core and refers to how integrated one feels with Nature. The affect component is an individual's sense of care for Nature. The behavioral component is an individual's commitment to protect the Natural environment.
Recent reaseach has found that Nature exsposure and feeling connected to Nature provides many benefits to humans such as health and well-being. The Toledo Metroparks offers a Forest Bathing opportunity: A journey through the parks is stress reducing and increases well-being. It offers the healing qualities of the forest and allows visitors to connect with Nature by using all of your senses. For nore information on Forest Bathing visit www.natureandforesttherapy.org
In conclusion, the connection between Nature and Humans is a constant subject of discourse within and amongst world cultures. The lithophanes in this exhibit are classified as belonging to the arts of the 19th century Biedermier Era, arts characterized as appealing to the middle class. However, sensibilities which dwell upon hunting, agriculture, a celebration of Nature, and love stories have a universal theme. Please come and wander amongst the 2018 Exhibit currently on view at the Blair Museum and also the garden and waters of the Toledo Botanical Gardens to strengthen your connection with Nature.