Stranger than Paradise juxtaposes works of different styles, sensibilities, and eras, suggesting how human perspectives on the natural world have shifted over the centuries. Nature—once associated with pleasure, myth, and domination—now often connotes feelings of dread, guilt, uncertainty, and concern.

This presentation of 14 objects from the RISD Museum’s holdings, ranging from ancient art to contemporary works, considers some of the ways human relationships to natural surroundings have been portrayed. In Wilhelm Frederik van Royen’s The Young Hunter (ca. 1706), a young man proudly displays the bounty of his hunt, indicating wealth and privilege and symbolically suggesting the inevitability of change and death. This scene forms a stark contrast to Angela Dufresne’s disturbingly ambiguous painting Man and Kid (2014), where the relationship between man and animal in a pastoral setting cannot be clearly or comfortably determined. Other featured artists include François Boucher, Arthur Bowen Davies, Tomory Dodge, Roger Hiorns, Justine Kurland, Wifredo Lam, Ron Nagle, Sophia Narrett, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Michael E. Smith, and Wilhelm Frederik van Royen.

The RISD Museum is supported by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and with the generous partnership of the Rhode Island School of Design, its Board of Trustees, and Museum Governors.