MAY 18, 1980

see below for individual images

May 18, 1980; 32 Years Later, 2012 from Michelle Forsyth on Vimeo.

Mt. St. Helens has seen a dramatic regeneration of wildlife and vegetation since its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980. Nevertheless, an enduring reminder of the blast can still be witnessed all over the mountain in the form of large open spaces with remnants of broken trees. Amongst these, hundreds of wildflowers can be seen. Last August, I visited the mountain and witnessed these fields of these flowers. Now I am working with the Marion Ownbey Herbarium at Washington State University to help identify them and the plants affected by the blast. I am photographing and creating prints from select pressed samples collected from the site after the blast. The project will comprise of a series of 32 individual prints, one for each year since the blast. Each piece will be intricately cut-out by hand to mimic the pressed plants and will be printed on Kitakata paper. Quotes from witnesses of the blast and aftermath are also included on the prints. May 18, 1980; 32 Years Later, will not be exhibited in conventional venues, but will be placed into public library books about the blast. The prints will be discovered by those who happen to stumble across them. The loose pieces of paper, tucked into the pages of books, would serve as markers of both loss and regeneration as well as the time passing, and would perhaps flutter to the floor as a book is opened.


This project was supported by a Larry Sommers Art Fellowship from Seattle Print Arts.

Special thanks goes to Mare Nazaire from the Marion Ownbey Herbarium at Washington State University for helping me to find the pressed samples and to Kevin Haas for teaching me lithography.