Misty clouds in shades of gray obscure a complete view of the snow dusted southwest corner of Washington’s tallest peak, Mount Rainier. The clouds, each one unique in color, shape, and density, frame various aspects of the mountainside, drawing the viewers eyes up toward a peak completely obscured by darkness. Texture and shades of gray provide an atmospheric feeling that suggests both a high altitude and the characteristic mist the Pacific Northwest is most known for. Hovering over the mountain, viewers are pushed to try and break through the cloud cover to experience Paradise, one of the mountain’s most popular hiking areas. This work, Above Paradise, Mount Rainier is one of hundreds of images Randlett took documenting the unique environment and landscape of the Northwest since the 1940s.
Randlett was a distinguished landscape and portrait photographer. Her portraits of figures from the Northwest’s creative community – poets, novelists, teachers, architects, and artists – provide invaluable documentation of a time and place, while capturing each sitters personality. Over the course of five decades, she documented more than 500 of the key figures whose work has defined the Northwest as a region.
Mary Randlett lived her entire life in the Puget Sound area. She taught herself dark room photography, working in the chemistry building’s darkroom at Whitman College in Walla Walla and apprenticing briefly with photographer Hans Jorgensen (1915-2003). Her work is in the collection of more than 40 American museums, including Seattle Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC; and her work appears in more than 200 books and exhibition catalogues. She received numerous grants, awards, and citations, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and, in 1983, a Washington State Governor’s Award of Special Commendation for “unique contributions to the field.”