In the wake of the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980, Frank Gohlke made five trips to what was left of the mountain and the surrounding area. On each trip (in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1990) he took the same picture of the confluence of Pine Creek and the Lewis River. Each picture (which I’ve stacked above) is in the collection of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Click on the year above to see that year’s picture at 2000 pixels wide.
Gohlke’s pictures don’t show only the impact of the volcano’s eruption, though the rapid push of ash through the area is evident in the first picture of the series: the gushing ashflow is what stripped the fallen tree of its bark some 30 feet up the tree, eventually toppling it. The pictures also show the forest being logged roughly concurrent with the eruption and its aftermath: The river bank in the second picture shows the remnants of a clear-cut, and in the fourth and fifth pictures you can see uniformly planted seedlings filling in.
Gohlke and I talked about this series of pictures at length on this week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast, which also features artist Emmet Gowin. Their photographs taken after the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens are on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art in the exhibition "American Vesuvius: The Aftermath of Mount Saint Helens by Frank Gohlke and Emmet Gowin." The show is on view through May 12.
To download the program to your PC/mobile device, click here. Subscribe to The MAN Podcast via iTunes, SoundCloud or RSS. To see dozens of images of the works discussed on this week’s program, visit Modern Art Notes.