The Portland Art Museums timely show, Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art, featuring Frank Gohlke’s Mount St. Helens photographs, has been extended until January 3rd, 2021.
On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens, located in the Cascade Mountains of southeast Washington, erupted with the force equivalent to 1600 times the energy released by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The initial blast decimated nearly 231 square miles of immediate land and an additional 22,000 acres of timber were damaged. Subsequent ash flows and gas exposure following the initial explosion rendered the landscape a barren waste. In 1981, Gohlke made his first trip to Mount St. Helens to document the aftermath of the eruption. It would be a visit that would eventually lead to four more returns in the next nine years, often with the intent of creating a time-lapsed narrative of a particular area captured during a previous trip.
For all its natural beauty, Mount St. Helens is humanist in intention, however dark. Like Edmund Burke’s notion of the Sublime, these works are manifestations of nature as seemingly opposing ideas in harmony, limning beauty, terror, and the uncontrollable all in one.
To view Gallery Luisotti’s 2012 exhibition of this work please click Here.