Volcanoes have fascinated Northwest Coast artist Ryan Molenkamp since Mount St. Helens erupted when he was a small boy in 1980, frightening and amazing him. He read about them, visited natural-history museums and hiked their peaks as he got older. So it’s not surprising that when he went off to college, it was to study geology.
No art classes had been offered at his high school, and he had no idea when he entered Western Washington University that anyone could major in art or make it a career. His first painting class changed his academic history: He began college to find out what was going on in the planet and he ended college learning how to portray it.