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Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth,
Aerial Photographs

Henry Art Gallery
Seattle WA thru Nov 11, 2004

David Eckard, Stanza (Carnac Alignment) (2006), charcoal and latex paint on panel [Chambers, Portland OR, through Feb 24]

The aerial images of Emmet Gowin, one of America's leading photographers, provide the public with a perspective of the American landscape that often goes unnoticed. Organized by Yale University Art Gallery, Changing the Earth is Gowin's first major touring exhibit in ten years. His foreboding photographs are captivating for their stark beauty and elegant depictions of massive patterns not ordinarily seen from ground perspective. They also enable Gowin to show us what mankind has done to scar the earth.

Gowin's relationship to the Northwest landscape dates back to 1980, when the Seattle Arts Commission funded him to document the aftermath of Mount St. Helen's eruption in northern Washington. This important project provided inspiration for Gowin's future interest in documenting how human activities change the natural environment. He since has documented military test sites, mining operations, the excavation of golf courses and toxic waste treatment facilities. A prominent and key image on exhibit is his 1986 image of the abandoned Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State.

Emmet Gowin - Erosion, Highway Route 6 and Rail Cut, Looking North from Green River, Utah
Emmet Gowin, Erosion, Highway Route 6 and Rail Cut, Looking North from Green River, Utah (1988), toned gelatin silver print [Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA, through Nov 11]

The emotion in Gowin's work is clearly evident. Many pieces are dark and eerie, exuding the unspoken tension and struggle for space that dominates much of humanity. The stillness and silence of Gowin's images evoke a subdued and melancholy introspection as we are forced to recognize and take responsibility for the effects of incessant development and attempts to control nature.

Allyn Cantor

 Sun, Feb 4, 2007