Arts & Culture

Granoff displays Appalachian adventure

Arts & Culture Staff Writer
Friday, October 7, 2011

Michael Mount ‘12.5 is hungry. Everything at his disposal, including food, exists in his 10-pound bag. It’s June 2010, and his slight frame faces the chilling edge of the Arctic Circle. He slogs on, numb-footed in spiked shoes, wielding a small hand ax. Since April he has been heading north, walking more than 1,000 miles to arrive here — to scale yet another mountain, 1,000 miles high. The toothy earth below opens its jagged jaws, gaping icily.

Mount took a semester off in spring 2010 to walk the 2,663-mile long Pacific Crest Trail through the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, from Mexico to Canada. And in 2008, he took a gap year before attending Brown to hike the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail across the eastern portion of the United States. On both excursions, he kept a journal and took pictures with a disposable camera. The images and words from both excursions are now on display at the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.

“The photographs reflect a motif of loneliness, of powerlessness — from the vastness,” he said. “It’s very much referential to nature. There’s not very many people in them. The images have a low resolution, a washed-out aesthetic. It’s such simple technology, it’s just colors.”

The collection vividly depicts the harrowing quality of the traversed landscape. A wafer-thin Mount is dwarfed by the rambling, hostile expanses of the American wild. Growing up in North Carolina, Mount recalls many summer nights spent under the stars, his body plunked in countless rivers — the beginning of his engagement with nature.

But the scale of both these expeditions was unprecedented for Mount. “It’s like being part of a mirage landscape, feeling like an ant in a picnic blanket. You can’t see the end,” Mount said, “From the highest peak, you can’t see more than a hundred miles ahead of you on a clear day.”

The Appalachian Trail, which he climbed during his gap year “was a gamble before college. I thought, ‘If I’m going to sell myself to an institution, this is my one shot for adventure,'” he said.

The evidence of Mount’s adventure is on display through Oct. 14.

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