Side Image: 

Linda Raskin (American), Formed by Glaciers, date unknown, etching, 15 x 11 inches. Gift of the Estate of Janet Ela. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

About the Artist
Lynda Raskin

Information on this artist has not been found.

Key Ideas
  • Depiction of geological events and features
  • Investigation of the natural history of a place
  • Evidence of cycles of climate change in the upper Midwest
  • Awareness of life on Earth over time and in a particular region
Discussion Questions
  • What does the phrase “formed by glaciers mean?”
  • Is this a realistic depiction of a landscape formed by glaciers? Why or why not?
  • What glacial forms can you find in the print?
  • How do you know that Formed by Glaciers depicts an ancient landscape?
  • How might Formed by Glaciers spark awareness of geological events or features? What might it say about human fascination with the ancient past?
  • Why might the artist have made this image so small?
  • What do you think is the meaning of the phrase “view property” that is written along the left margin of the print? Why might Raskin have included this phrase along with words such as kames, eskers, and drumlins?
  • Where are glaciers found today?
  • How are glaciers formed? How do they move?
  • What are some unique features of landscapes that have been glaciated?
  • Where can glacial features be found in Wisconsin?
Vocabulary
  • recessional moraine a moraine marking a temporary halt in the general retreat of a glacier
  • drumlin a long, narrow or oval, smoothly rounded hill of unstratified glacial drift
  • glacier an extended mass of ice formed from snow falling and accumulating of years and moving very slowly, either descending from high mountains, as in valley glaciers, or moving outward from centers of accumulation, as in continental glaciers
  • meltwater water from melted snow or ice
  • moraine a ridge, mound, or irregular mass of unstratified glacial drift, chiefly boulders, gravel, sand, and clay
  • esker a serpentine ridge of gravelly and sandy drift, believed to have been formed by streams under or in glacial ice
  • kettle a deep, kettle-shaped depression in glacial drift
  • kames a ridge or mound of stratified drift left by a retreating ice sheet
  • erractic pertaining to a boulder or the like carried by glacial ice and deposited some distance from its place of origin

When and Where Is It? Time and Place in Art

In Formed by Glaciers, Lynda Raskin has imagined a scene from long ago. The glaciers referred to in the title have receded, leaving behind a landscape shaped by their powerful forces.

The intimate size of the etching encourages a close look to examine its details. The title appears at the top of the image, written in a manner that recalls the graphic design of a tourist postcard: "greetings," as it were, from an ancient time in the upper Midwest. Above the title and along the top edge is written the phrase "what it's like here," followed by the number five and the words kames, eskers, drumlins, kettles, recessional moraines, and meltwater, which identify the shapes and types of land forms scoured out and piled up by the glacier and the flow of water as it melted. The left margin includes the curious phrase “view property” that suggests the process of land acquisition for private use.

Our "bird's eye view" of this glaciated landscape is emphasized by a bird in flight with its strong, blunt wings and long tail feathers. The lakes show peaks and ripples that indicate the flow of air across the surface of the water. A regular pattern of drumlins lines the valley floor, which is also occupied by the serpentine curves of a series of eskers. The flow of water bisects an esker as a river makes its way around an oval kettle that is filled with melt water. A cluster of kames and recessional moraines recedes into the distance.

The illusion of distance is suggested by the diminishing scale of the lake and land forms, which, along with the position of the bird, seem oriented to draw attention to the rising or setting sun. Cross-hatched and parallel lines indicate depth and volume while a natural color palette of blues, greens, and pinks conveys a sense of the familiar in this bucolic ancient wilderness. The lush greenery, sloping hills, flowing water, soaring bird, and glowing sun beckon and seem to say, "Wish you were here."

Cycles of glacial and interglacial periods have occurred in the Northern Hemisphere for more than two million years, with the last major period of glaciation in North America, known as the Wisconsin Glacial Stage, occurring approximately 100,000 years ago. At that time, the massive Laurentide Ice Sheet flowed from what is now Canada to cover areas in northern, central, and eastern Wisconsin. Evidence of the glacier can be seen today in the region’s lakes, kettles, moraines, and other landforms sculpted or deposited by its advancement and retreat.