Leopold Center Art Discovery Day

About Art Day

Aldo Leopold is most famous for his work A Sand County Almanac, based upon his experiences returning a degraded Sauk County farm back to health.  His "Good Oak" essay begins : “There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace”. While Leopold could not have foreseen the extent to which our nation’s demographic shift might impact cultural values and individual health, he certainly understood that separation from the natural world impaired a person’s ability to think critically about his or her connection to land and reliance upon natural resources.

Art has the unique ability to combat this loss of connection and facilitate a stronger connection between people and the land by the very nature of the process. Artists intimately connect with the techniques and the materials they use throughout the creation of their work, fostering deep understanding and respect. Meanwhile the artwork itself changes its audience’s perspective by slowing people down and challenging the way one views the world by creating an emotional connection. Ultimately art can serve as the lost link between the “spiritual danger” of not owning a farm and the land ethic. 

With Leopold’s philosophy guiding the way, the Aldo Leopold Foundation set out to build its headquarters just a mile away from where the now famous Leopold Shack stands. Within the project, architects and engineers worked to create a sustainable building incorporating alternative technologies, design features that cut down on energy consumption, and use of local materials. This definition of “local” includes not only local materials but local craftspeople as well. A number of local artisans were enlisted as an integral component of the sustainable design.

Each artisan who has been involved with the Leopold Center and the Aldo Leopold Foundation has a unique connection to the Leopold legacy, land ethic, and their unique story to tell. In 2008, ALF sponsored the first Leopold Center Art Discovery Day to showcase the work of these talented artists. It was so successful that we've decided to make it an annual event, bringing in new regional artists each year whose work reflects Leopold's idea of a land ethic.