I really enjoyed Eirik Johnson’s talk, “Sharing Experience – or How I Learned to Love Collaboration” at the SPE NW regional conference in the fall. The talk was super interesting, and I loved the piece Give Em Enough Rope, a site-specific collaboration with artist Julia Bradshaw that Johnson showed and shared about. But it wasn’t so much Johnson’s stories of collaboration that prompted me to dive into his work and website – it was the gorgeous, thoughtful photographs he had made depicting nature and the people who live with it, in a variety of forms. In his work, Johnson has focused on commercial Matsutake mushroom hunters in the forests of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, seasonal hunting cabins built by the native Iñupiat inhabitants of Barrow, Alaska, and the borderlands where human and environmental forces meet. Each project contains photographs that feel vast and grand, rich with depth and color. I hope to feature two other bodies of work, Animal Holes and We Were Here, someday soon.

From the artist’s statement: When I was young, my family would hunt for mushrooms in the forests of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Some days we would spend afternoons along the shallows of a river watching salmon fight their way to spawning grounds upstream. These were the icons of the region: forest and salmon, pillars of Northwest identity. These photographs address the complicated relationship between the region’s landscape, the industries that rely upon natural [resources], and the communities they support. “Sawdust Mountain” is a melancholy love letter of sorts, a personal reflection on the region’s past, its hardscrabble identity and the turbulent future it must navigate.

Purchase the critically acclaimed monograph Sawdust Mountain here.

Visit artist's site: eirikjohnson.com