In this clip, photographer Eirik Johnson explains how he tried to portray a relationship between his subjects and their environment in his series Sawdust Mountain. Johnson shares the story of several of his encounters with inhabitants of the Northwest of all ages, touching on how these communities quickly adjust to the decline of the region’s bedrock industries. Through his portraits of the younger generation, he raises questions about the uncertain future of these communities.
A culmination of four years photographing throughout Oregon, Washington, and Northern California, Eirik Johnson: Sawdust Mountain focuses on the tenuous relationship between industries reliant upon natural resources and the communities they support. Timber and salmon are the bedrock of a regional Northwest identity, but the environmental impact of these industries is increasingly at odds with the contemporary ideal of sustainability. The exhibition and accompanying Aperture book of the same title reveal a landscape imbued with an uncertain future—no longer the region of boomtowns built upon the riches of massive old growth forests. The exhibition, curated by Elizabeth A. Brown, Chief Curator, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, is on view at Aperture Gallery in New York through June 10, 2010.
Eirik Johnson’s (born in Seattle, 1974) work has been exhibited at venues such as the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, and George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. He has received several awards, including the Santa Fe Prize (2005) and a William J. Fulbright Grant to travel to Peru (1999–2000). His work is held in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; National Fulbright Foundation; and Joseph and Elaine Monsen. His first monograph, Borderlands, was published in 2005. Johnson is represented by G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle, and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco; he is an assistant professor of photography at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, where he resides.