Sunday, February 6, 2011

Duck Stamps Are Part of Our Visual Culture

There are a few art programs in the country where students are encouraged to do paintings like those found on Federal Duck Stamps. Why just a few? Because paintings of ducks fall under the category of "visual culture" rather than "art". This is not an indication that these paintings are not "good paintings" - they just serve different purposes than personal self-exploration and other purposes related to "art".

"Visual Culture" includes many types of visual images not usually found in traditional art museums and fine art galleries. These include folk arts, crafts, mass media, and popular culture such as comic books, greeting cards, scrapbooks, doll houses, yard ornaments, etc.

Visual media can fall under one or more of these categories:
1. Visual Communication - like a map you draw to give someone directions to your house.
2. Design - like drawings of concepts for a new car or different pair of shoes.
3. Visual Culture - popular images enjoyed by the general public (like Holiday decorations).
4. Art - Works of personal self-expression that often challenge norms of society.

Duck Stamps are not for mailing letters - they are licenses issued to duck hunters. Since 1934, sales of Federal Duck Stamps to hunters, stamp collectors and other conservationists have raised more than $700 million that has been used to acquire more than 5.2 million acres of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Federal Duck Stamps are a vital tool for wetland conservation. Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar generated by the sales of Federal Duck Stamps goes directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Federal Duck Stamp Program is one of the most successful conservation programs ever initiated and is a highly effective way to conserve America’s natural resources.

Click on the painting on the right to see the exquisite detail and craftsmanship. Some students like doing these kinds of paintings and a good visual literacy program makes room for visual culture as well as fine art. Click on the heading above to learn about the Junior Duck Stamp Competition.

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