George Masa (Osaka, Japan 1881–1933 Asheville, NC) began his life in Asheville, NC in 1915 as an employee of The Grove Park Inn. He is best known for the photographic works he made to advocate for the preservation of the Great Smoky Mountains. His work was essential to the transformation of parts of the region into federally protected national parks. The proliferation of his photographs, a result of his laborious tracking of the Western North Carolina terrain and beyond, also brought national and international attention to Western North Carolina as a site for adventure-seekers. Masa died impoverished from tuberculosis, receiving greatest recognition for his photography and contributions to the National Park Service after his death. In 1961, the US Geodetic Survey designated an unnamed peak in the Smokies as Masa Knob.
—Michelle Lee, PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota and 2018 Luce Curatorial Intern for Museum Diversity at the Asheville Art Museum
This photograph is on view in Public Domain: Photography and the Preservation of Public Lands through September 27, 2021.