The photographs of Seattle photographer Mary Randlett have helped to define the unique qualities of the Northwest's natural beauty and light. Born in 1924 in Seattle, Randlett was inspired at an early age by the beauty of Puget Sound and the islands. She attended Queen Anne High School and although never finishing, entered Whitman College where she received a B.A. in political science in 1947. But her focus was always on serious photography.
In addition to her nature photographs, Randlett become an important portrait photographer who was uniquely responsible for documenting the artists who created the northwest school, such as Morris Graves, who was a friend of her mother, Mark Tobey, and Kenneth Calahan. She went on to photograph hundreds of artists and writers as well. Randlett took the last photos of poet Theodore Roethke (UW Professor and Pulitzer Prize Winner) before his death. Her Roethke photos were included in a poetry book published by University of Washington Press, which established a close connection to the publisher that led to her work on over three dozen books.
Randlett's photographs are included in over forty permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution. An exhibit of her landscape photographs was shown at the Tacoma Art Museum in 2007. Randlett's huge body of works are housed in the special collections of UW's Allen Library.
On the 6th floor of the Allen Center we have six of Mary Randlett's portraits of UW-affiliated artists whose work is also in the building. The artists are: Alden Mason (shown above, right), Kenneth Calahan, George Tsutakawa, John-Franklin Koeing, Johsel Namkung, and Jacob Lawrence (show above, left). All except the Lawrence photo are from the book Iridescent Light: The Emergence of Northwest Art, by Doris Tarzan Ament, which highlights 20 northwest artists.
Mary Randlett Landscapes, University of Washington Press, 2007.
Iridescent Light: The Emergence of Northwest Art, by Deloris Tarzan Ament and Mary Randlett (photographer). University of Washington Press, 2002.
Seeing Seattle, by Roger Sale and Mary Randlett (photographer), University of Washington Press, 1994.
Art in the Allen Center