In Our Element

Portraits of Montana’s workers and the tools they use to do their jobs

By Mandy Mohler

Editor’s Note: This is one of the stories featured in the summer edition of Flathead Living magazine. Pick up a free copy on newsstands throughout the valley.

In the summer of 2012, photographer Mandy Mohler was accepted into the Artist Wilderness Connection, a Montana residency program that affords artists the opportunity to experience remote places and produce art in an environment of extreme solitude. During her stay at a U.S. Forest Service cabin in the Great Bear Wilderness, instead of photographing landscapes, she began taking portraits of the tools and objects she encountered.

“I believe that the tools or belongings that one uses or collects have the ability to describe people and experiences more so than their physical appearance alone,” Mohler said.

Soon, her project evolved. She began pairing her “tooling compositions” with portraits of locals who “reflect a classic and somewhat old-fashioned idea of Montana and the West.”

“The Human + Nature Exhibit,” featuring Mohler’s work, opens July 25 at the Collage Gallery in Bigfork at 573 Electric Ave. For more of her images, visit

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