#picturingtrails Dispatches: Melinda Hurst Frye

Melinda Hurst Frye, Mercer Slough, 2018.

Melinda Hurst Frye is one of two photographers to receive our Picturing Trails commission in 2017, a project in partnership with King County Parks to comprehensively capture and interpret the King County Regional Trail System through fine art photography. Melinda has been out on the trails photographing since October of 2017—here, she shares an update:

Hello, King County! My name is Melinda Hurst Frye, and you may have seen me setting up my scanner and making images along the trails in the last few months. Say hi if you spot me! You can also follow my Instagram account to keep track of where I am and what I am photographing during the year. I am excited to share a few sneak peaks of the work in progress from Picturing Trails and to tell you a bit more about my intent and process.

I photograph in a combination of methods, though mainly making images that combine the use of a flatbed scanner and a camera to create small environmental scenes. I am curious about how place, memory and varying ecosystems occur in one physical space, such as the grass that my children play in while the worms below the surface refresh the soil.

Photographing the trails has allowed me to look at the idea of home in a larger context. I scan small environments, insects, and objects found along the trails to create a sense of wonder based on our immediate natural world. When we are still, the natural world reveals itself. I want these images to reveal the viewer’s own stillness and observation. The initial heart of my previous work was my home in Seattle, though Picturing Trails has been a remarkable experience for a greater exploration of our region. The trails have taken me to places that I have not been aware of even though I was born and raised here in King County. This is as much of an exploration of my home, as it is a portrait of our regional trails.

Melinda Hurst Frye, Lake Washington Tracks, 2018.

There are so many pockets of wetlands, forest and natural areas to explore in both the urban and rural areas. What has surprised me the most is how our system of trails connects nearly all of King County, and while connected, each region has a defining look, attribute or environment. I have been particularly interested in the trails that are high use, intersect with bordering counties, cross municipal borders, and/or the areas where multiple trails come together.

The Greenlake trail was a favorite place this fall, as well as a total surprise. I assumed with its use and location it wouldn’t offer nearly as much ecodiversity as it does. I was wrong, and I ended up making one of my favorite images of a katydid perched on a fir tree with several small mushrooms growing out of the bark. The Mercer Slough along I-90 also offers gorgeous trails spotted with skunk cabbage (surprisingly pleasant smelling) and salmonberry flowers in the spring. I am looking forward to photographing in southern King County as well as the more urban areas around as we enter the most beautiful time of the year. See you out there!