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Hudson River Culture

Gioia Kuss | New York, United States

1 Castleton Boat Club View
A window on the world gives deference to a nautical past that boating enthusiasts embrace along the Hudson. Local economy and culture embraces recreation on the river. Boat clubs dot the shores and replace the camaraderie of crews and their vessels from the past’s thriving fishing industry decimated by pollution, dams, overfishing, and fishkills.

Explorers have long been lured up the Hudson River. One of North America’s most iconic rivers is tidal for 150 miles inland; with a twice daily influx of worldly sea-salt water, it spurred foreign seafarers on, seeking passage to a “new world”. Its width, grandeur, and rich diversity inspired humans for millennia. The give and take spans from New York City’s busy harbor to Troy then the river continues through canals and dams with factories and beyond to untrammeled Adirondack wilderness and the Great Lakes. Its shores and valley support communities and all types of development known to man. Environmental degradation took a toll, yet its rebirth is currently taking place with efforts committed to a healthy planet, now species are returning after 50 years of absence. Just as lighthouses still dot its shores, the Hudson stands as a cultural beacon of hope for the ongoing existence of human and bio-diversity in a “new world” that we continue to change through our use and dogged appreciation of natural resources.

Nature and the built environment create layers where we live. Natural patterns make us feel at home within the built environment.

Can we plan our way into the future gracefully? Can our common humanity support cultural diversity and economic opportunity that includes equalized food security and connection to community? I see answers in the history of our land use. Through the art of photography I want to expose questions and fundamentals to promote cross cultivation of ideas and dialogue about where our next policies and projects can lead us.

A combination of absorbing science and art as a way of life enables me to see emotion, pattern, composition, and the underlying truths in nature, as we know them. Art is everywhere to be noticed. Science can explain why it looks like it does. As a species we set ourselves apart by the ability to create art. Our existence is supported by our ability to find sustenance, create, and harvest gifts from land: some we support, some we take, and some are being taken away.

My career arc includes an intimate understanding of: agriculture and farming communities; academic communities dedicated to communicating and growing the next generation of thinkers and doers; land-use planning alliances engaged in conservation of land, water, and biodiversity, along with the creation of spaces and support for humans to recreate themselves and find solace in a peaceful nature; finding strength in mutual health.

Conservation of water, soil, land, and open space will affect the quality and longevity of our lives. Protection of the environment has a broader context. Loss of habitat can result in biodiversity loss, while some may not care, we do not fully understand dynamics of species loss, but we do know loss of keystone species can lead to mass extinctions; once started it would be beyond our control.

Our connection needs to be unbroken to the land, lest we forget from where we came and sever the link to the land that supports us.

We are, as humans, one more natural process at work in the world. If our goal is not to overwhelm nature but live as a part of it, then we can celebrate both the common place and the fantastic nature of that which we create, as well as nature, natural processes and simple agricultural products. We have within our capabilities the prospect of showing why we should care about climate change and biodiversity and our ability to affect positive change in the way we live, and to celebrate what truths we find self-evident.

Ansel Adams, Eliott Porter, and Dennis Stock were my earliest heroes along with Edward Curtis, who documented a disappearing nation of North American natives. Later on I came to Robert Doisneau and his facility with a moment revealing the personality of his famous portrait subjects, along with Charles Pratt, Dorothea Lange, Consuela Kanaga, Imogen Cunningham, and Barbara Morgan. Contemporary photographers that currently have my attention are Ami Vitali, Thomas Struth and Sebastião Salgado.

This is a call to arms…or shovels…to ask that human practices and design for the land, which combine to affect the earth’s surface—support:

  • human life and recreation,
  • the relationship we have to our planet, 
  • our responsibility to change our practices which:
    • ameliorate climate change,
    • sustain this earth’s biodiversity, soil health, water quality and
    • result in human cooperation and care for each other.

FDR Prsidential Library, Hyde Park NY NPS

The Hudson River a Natural and Unnatural History, by Robert H. Boyle

World's End, T.C Boyle

The Riverkeepers, by John Cronin and RFK Kennedy JR

River of Dreams, Hudson Talbott

A Family Place, Leila Philip

Catherwood, Marly Youmans


Gioia Kuss

Home Land line 802 545 2051

60 Oxbow Lane

Weybridge VT 05753



StillWater LLC GK Photography









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