The idea of the American wilderness has long captivated artists fascinated by the ways in which its unspoiled natural beauty embodies the nation's identity. This beautifully produced volume celebrates the unsurpassed splendor of a fabled region, while also presenting the environmental complexities of managing a vast landscape in which the needs of ranchers, biologists, miners, tourists, and locals seek a finely delineated balance.
Photographer Laura McPhee follows in the tradition of 19th-century artistic approaches toward the sublime, relying on a large-format view camera to capture images of exquisite color, clarity, and definition. In images spanning all seasons, McPhee depicts the magnificence and history of the Sawtooth Valley in central Idaho. Her subject matter includes the region's spectacular mountain ranges, rivers, and ranchlands; its immense spaces and natural resources; the effects of mining and devastating wildfires; and the human stories of those who live and work there. Featured texts set McPhee's photographs in the context of the work of American predecessors including Frederick Sommer and J.B. Jackson, and discuss her working methods and experiences photographing the evolving landscape.
Laura McPhee is professor of photography and Joanne Lukitsh is professor of art history at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. McPhee's books include No Ordinary Land: Encounters in a Changing Environment, Forces of Change: A New View of Nature, and Girls: Ordinary Girls and Their Extraordinary Pursuits. Lukitsh is the author of Julia Margaret Cameron and other publications in the history of photography. Robert Hass was United States poet laureate from 1995 through 1997. His most recent collection of poems, Time and Materials, won the 2007 National Book Award in poetry.