Mountaintop Removal mining is the process of extracting coal using powerful explosives to remove hundreds of vertical feet of a mountain to access thin seams of coal underneath. Solid debris is then dumped into valleys burying hundreds of headwater streams while the liquid waste forms massive toxic coal slurry impoundments usually in the headwaters of a watershed. Not only has Mountaintop Removal mining destroyed over five-hundred mountains but it has diminished jobs and devastated communities. Dust, blasting and flooding in addition to land buyout by mining companies have created ghost-towns throughout the Southern Appalachian coalfields.
The photographs I take and use in my artwork begin to reveal a story of a particular place in time. A place where time has stood still yet at the same time a place that has evolved, changed or even disappeared. The images I use are not just about the environmental effects of Mountaintop Removal mining taking place within the Appalachian region but are about revealing the history of these locations; past and current. My artwork shows how MTR has transformed the Appalachian Mountains over time to flattened rubble and how small rural towns set in the hollows of West Virginia and Kentucky are currently being diminished or have already been reduced to nothing. It shows how a tragic coal mining accident in Southern West Virginia can tear apart a community with grief and rage and the lengths environmental activists are willing to take to stop the destructive environmental degradation that MTR is having on the landscape.
My current work consists of using a transferring method of digital photographs applied with a gel medium as the base layer. Additional images are then overlaid and layered to create various compositions. A black watercolor wash is then applied to highlight specific areas while at the same time creating a muddled, dripping yet ghostly setting. The scratched and faded areas of the images, due to the inconsistency of the applied gel medium, help to reassert the dreary atmosphere.
born: 1985, Park Ridge, Illinois
University of Cincinnati, MFA, 2013
West Virginia University, BFA, 2011
West Virginia University, BA, 2008
Wolfstein Travel Fellowship, University of Cincinnati, 2012
University of Cincinnati GSGA Research Fellowship Recipient, 2012-13
Amplify Action Exhibition Honorarium Award, Skylight Gallery, 2012
Disaster/Resilience, Exhibition Catalogue, Harwoods Arts Center. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Gambling the Aisle, Summer 2013 p.28 & 44
Ellsworth, Elizabeth and Jamie Kruse, Making the Geologic Now: Responses to Material Conditions of Contemporary Life, Punctum Press 2012 p.63
selected solo or two-person exhibits
Leveling Appalachia, UC Sycamore Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2013
Coal, 840 Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2013
selected group shows
In A Changing World, University of Dayton Arts/Marianist Environmental Education Center, Dayton, Ohio, 2014
Is This Freedom, Wiseman Gallery, Grants Pass, Oregon, 2013
Disaster/Resilience, Harwood Art Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2013
Amplify Action: Sustainability through the Arts, Skylight Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, 2012