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Framing America's Wilderness

From March 1 to March 11, Teachers College’s Macy Gallery took a trip around North America, thanks to an exhibit of more than 40 photographs by wilderness photographer Adam Scott. The show was the first benefit for the TC Education Zone Partnership, which boosts educational opportunities, expectations, and outcomes for New York City schoolchildren.

An exhibit of Adam Scott's photos, on display in Macy Gallery, will benefit the TC Education Zone Partnership

A photo exhibit of some of America's most pristine wilderness areas might seem an odd choice as a fundraiser for a partnership that focuses on schools in Harlem and other areas of New York City. But as photographer Adam Scott says of his work, some 40 examples of which display in TC's Macy Gallery through March 11th, "I'm willing to go on strenuous journeys to see these things. I can get away for 100 days. Most people can't."


Scott, who rock-climbs, snowshoes and backpacks to reach his chosen locations, sees himself as "a reactionary photographer." He prides himself on using no digital manipulation to capture "the wonders of the North American landscape as they really are." For Darlyne Bailey, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Teachers College, that's precisely why Scott's work fits in with the mission of the TC Education Zone Partnership, a collaborative effort between the College and New York City that includes the TC Reading and Writing Project (led by Professor Lucy Calkins) TC Reading Buddies, the Heritage School, the New Teacher Academy, the National Academy for Excellent Teaching (led by Dr. Douglas Wood), and other projects.


"It's important to bring this kind of beauty into our urban consciousness," Bailey says. "There's a bigger world out there than the city that Adam captures and invites us into."


Scott worked as a computer software engineer until he was caught in the dot-com flameout of the late �90s. To gather his thoughts, he went on a 70-day camping trip, taking photos all the while. When he came back and showed the photos around, he said, "people kept pointing to certain ones, so I decided to put them up for sale -- and they sold."


Scott said he wanted to travel so he could "understand the ecosystems, topography and environmental geography of North America and to understand how they're interconnected and interrelated." He believes his efforts have paid major personal dividends. After three years of hard travel, he said, he "can mentally walk across the country in any direction." In all that time, Scott says, he was never harassed. "This country is incredibly safe." he said.


Scott now wants to continue his goal of bringing the wilderness to the people through a form of art therapy, donating prints to hospital rooms, senior citizen's homes, and other places where the residents may not be able to enjoy the outdoors for themselves.


The gallery, located on the fourth floor of Macy Hall, is free and open to the public. Scott will donate a percentage of proceeds from sales of his photos to the TC Education Zone Partnership. Many of his images can be viewed online at


Published Sunday, Sep. 18, 2005