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Director of JMU Sawhill Gallery to Exhibit Work at BC

Sawhill Gallery Photos


Gary Freeburg, a James Madison University art professor and director of the Sawhill Gallery, will present “The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes: Revisiting the Alaskan Sublime” Aug. 28 – Sept. 26 in the Cleo Driver Miller Art Gallery at Bridgewater College.

Freeburg will give an artist’s talk at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24, in the Boitnott Room. An artist’s reception will follow from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Miller Gallery. The convocation, reception and exhibition are open to the public at no charge.

On June 6, 1912, the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century took place approximately 100 miles west of Kodiak, Alaska, in the Aleutian Range in what is now the Katmai National Park and Preserve.

For three days, Novarupta, comparable in size to Indonesia’s 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, spewed more than five cubic miles of ash and debris 100,000 feet into the air. The dense, superheated waves of magmatic spray incinerated all living organisms, leaving a bed of igneous material that, when mixed with water from the surrounding glaciers and snowfields, produced thousands of steam vents called fumaroles. Thus was born the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.

Following the eruption, the National Geographic Society sent Robert Griggs on four expeditions to the volcano.

From 2000 to 2011, Freeburg has retraced Griggs footsteps five times, photographing one of the earth’s remotest places. Although the 10,000 fumaroles are largely gone, Freeburg’s photos capture the essence of the steam-filled air, the deafening noise of the eruption and the incredible physical forces that created the landscape.

For 25 years, Freeburg lived and worked in Alaska, where he served as a professor of art and director of the art program at the University of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula College and served as the curator in the campus art gallery that now bears his name.

He has worked with renowned photographers and educators, such as Ansel Adams, Oliver Gagliani and John Schultz.

Freeburg’s photographs have been exhibited nationally and appeared in Under Northern Lights, Writers and Artists View the Alaskan Landscape by Frank Soos and Kesler Woodward and Looking North by Alvin Amason.

He was recognized by the Getty Center for Education in the Arts for his art advocacy work in Alaska and Washington, D.C. 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 work in the Alaskan wilderness.

The Miller Gallery is located on the second floor of the Alexander Mack Memorial Library. The Gallery is open 8 a.m. to midnight Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 to 11 p.m. Sunday.

Media Contacts

Charles Culbertson
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Mary Kay Heatwole
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Abbie Parkhurst
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