David Maisel: Capturing the Beauty in Environmental Disasters

David Maisel: Capturing the Beauty in Environmental Disasters

By: Veronica Odetunde | Edit By: Audrey A. KIm

Mount St. Helens

Photographer and visual artist David Maisel started his career as an architecture student at Princeton University, studying under Emmet Gowin. However, after photographing the Mount St. Helen’s volcano with Gowin in 1983, he shifted his focus to natural environments and landscapes. Today, Maisel’s work is internationally renowned and his endless curiosity and activism keeps the world watching.

Maisel’s signature aerial photography lifts and challenges viewers’ perceptions of our planet. By decontextualizing its destruction, his approach is not only visually arresting but unnerving. For example, his close-up of green acid water in Nevada may look like a beautiful abstract shot, but the intention is to call out the mining industry’s harmful pollution.

The Lake Project 68, 2015

The Lake Project 72, 2015

From pit mining sites to forests, Maisel’s photography across the United States has brought attention to our relationship with the natural world. However, for his third solo exhibition, he ventured to the Oregon State Psychiatric Hospital to showcase copper canisters filled with patients’ cremated remains. The mineral build-up on the canisters circled back to his landscape photography and fascination with copper’s decomposition. And just like his aerial photography, Maisel brings the forgotten or unnoticed out of hiding and presented in all its potency to the world.

American Mine

Black Maps