In 1931, Aniakchak Volcano exploded. The eruption was one of the largest explosive events in Alaska in the last 100 years. As a result of the eruption, a new earth surface was created that Gary Freeburg has documented in a collection of photographs, moving pictures, drawings, and journal reflections.
"Aniakchak is an active volcano located on the Alaska Peninsula 670 kilometers southwest of Anchorage. The volcano consists of a dramatic, 10-kilometer-diameter, 0.5 to 1.0-kilometer-deep caldera that formed during a catastrophic eruption 3,500 years ago. Since then, at least a dozen separate vents within the caldera have erupted, often explosively, to produce lava flows and widespread tephra (ash) deposits. Although Aniakchak volcano presently shows no signs of unrest, explosive and nonexplosive eruptions will occur in the future.”
AVO, USGS Website
Gary Freeburg’s images are captured within the caldera of one of Earth’s greatest volcanoes. The photographs and drawings portray the monumental remnants of natural forms in a post eruption environment. His careful observation, study, and exploration into this volcanic wilderness have added depth and breadth to the visual interpretations of the Earth’s regenerative process through volcanism.
His work can only be accomplished by traveling to this remote and hostile place. The wilderness skills he has developed over the past thirty-nine years allow him to live and work in isolation for weeks on end. He works alone and has made three trips to Aniakchak National Monument where he has collected over 1000 photographic images that introduce us to the story of this spectacular volcano.
His work requires special equipment to go into the volcano’s caldera, to make a visual record of the environment, to safely return from the field, and to reproduce the images created during his expeditions into finely detailed, dramatic, and reflective moments in time.
The Valley of 10,000 Smokes
In the past twelve years, Gary Freeburg has walked alone through the remote wilderness of
the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, Alaska. In his five expeditions there, he has
created 2000 negatives and digital exposures of a truly remarkable place and
converted these exposures into a series of photographs that express the significance
of one of the world's greatest natural wonders. The Valley of 10,000 Smokes came into existence
during a three-day period in 1912. On June 6 of that year a new volcano, Novarupta, was born. In a period
of less than 72 hours, this volcano ejected greater than 7 cubic miles
of volcanic debris into the atmosphere. Most of the heavier material settled in an adjacent
valley covering the valley floor in up to 1000 feet of ash. Robert F. Griggs, on assignment
with the National Geographic Society, was the first to set foot on this active and steaming surface in 1916 and to give it the name it now possesses. The eruption was
the fourth largest in history. It was 100 times larger than Mt. St. Helens, Washington,
and even greater than the 1883 explosion of Krakatoa in the Dutch East Indies (now
Indonesia) that claimed the lives of over 36,000 people.
The Valley of Fire is located in the Mojave Desert of southern Nevada, approximately fifty miles east / northeast of Las Vegas. Dedicated in 1935, it is Nevada's oldest state park.
The park is noted for its brilliant formations of eroded sandstone and sand dunes that are more than 150 million years old. Early morning and late afternoon sunlight on these sandstone formations oftentimes creates the appearance that the geological monuments are on fire and the park was named for this
phenomenon. These photographs are a small sample of images created on a recent January day while Gary Freeburg was hiking in the park. The photographs are formalistic pigmented inkjet prints depicting the quietude and solitude that appears so often in his work. At this time of year in the Nevada desert, the landscape appears dormant and there is a wonderful, meditative sense of waiting and anticipation for the fallow period of winter to pass and the energy of spring and growth to return.