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The Valley of 10,000 Smokes


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About the Author

Gary Freeburg was born 1948 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was raised there. After serving in Vietnam in the U.S. Navy, Freeburg received three degrees in photography: his B.F.A. and M.A. from Minnesota State University at Mankato in 1974 and 1977 and his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1978. He lived and worked in Alaska for twenty-five years and served as a professor of art at the University of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula College, where he directed the art program and served as the curator in the campus art gallery that now bears his name. He is currently a professor of art and the director of Sawhill Gallery at James Madison University. Freeburg has worked with renowned photographers and educators, such as Ansel Adams, Oliver Gagliani, and John Schultz, and his photographs have been exhibited nationally and appeared in Under Northern Lights, Writers and Artists View the Alaskan Landscape and Looking North (University of Washington Press, 1998; 2000). He has received an Individual Artist Fellowship Grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts, Anchorage; an honorary degree for his contribution to the visual arts from Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage; and an Art Educator of the Year Award in Higher Education from the Alaska Art Education Association. He was recognized by the Getty Center for Education in the Arts for his art advocacy work in Alaska and Washington, DC, and a documentary film by George C. Johnson, An Artist's Journey to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes: The Photography of Gary Freeburg, serves as a capstone to Freeburg's photographic work in the wilderness of Alaska.


"The Valley of 10,000 Smokes by Gary Freeburg, photographer, and essays by John Eichelberer and Jeannne M Schaaf is an interesting book of reflections on our planet and the meanings and inspirations we can draw from observing changes in natural environments. Freeburg journeyed to a very remote part of Alaska surrounding Mt. Novarupta, which erupted in the fourth largest volcano every recorded and caused the collapse of Mt. Katmai in June of 1912. Soon after that eruption an expedition went to study the area and photograph it, and as a result President Woodrow Wilson made it Katmai National Park and Preserve. Freeburg and his team returned there a century later to study and photograph the same area, forever changed by the volcano, although some of the terrain still has smoking fumaroles. The black and white photos from a century ago and the color ones which are current make an unusual and informative collection to compare the landscapes. The essays that accompany the photographs are thought provoking and well written."--Bonnie Neely "Real Travel Adventures"
"This horizontal-format book showcases the black-and-white and color landscape photographs of Gary Freeburg, following in the footsteps of National Geographic explorer Robert F. Griggs. Selections from the photographs of Griggs's 1915-19 expeditions to Alaska are shown in the first section and throughout the essay sections of the book. The whole is finely produced by George F. Thompson Publishing. Most of the book is filled with Freeburg's photographs. Each is given a full page with plenty of white space and a facing page carrying small captions. The interspersed essays are by John Eichelberger and Jeanne M. Schaaf and tell the story of the Griggs expeditions, with meditations on the volcanic landscape. Griggs's original four-year exploration of this area was the result of the second-largest volcanic eruption in modern times, comparable only to the explosion of Kratatoa. It resulted in the formation of a new volcano, which drew the interest of the public and the National Geographic Society. The icy, steaming desert Griggs and his team documented in the first decade of the twentieth century, and Freeburg documents in the first decade of the twenty-first, is called the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. The Griggs expeditions' photos are remarkable. Freeburg has the skill to equal them without matching them. His palette of silver grays is similar, but his pictures look up rather than down on these rugged mountains. In the original photographs, steam appears white, and human figures appear black, but both seem equally hazy and temporary. Freeburg offers a more monumental aesthetic. Contrasts between foreground and background, frozen in deep field, converse equally well in black-and-white or color, and all signs of life except the evidence of the photograph are absent."-- "Book News, Inc."

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