Coal Country


Form and Conflict, Coal River

I made these pictures on a trip to document a protest against mountaintop removal mining led by Coal River Mountain Watch, near Whitesville, WV, in March, 2009. I did not approach the work as an activist – though I feel strongly about the situation. Instead, I wanted to try to work out what photographic form is appropriate for such polarized content, and whether it was possible and useful to respond as an artist there.

Robert Adams said to me once, “the best pictures contain contradictory but truthful things.” I believe that art can provide resolution, as in the resolution of form and content. The result is a kind of beauty, which provides the insight of hope. Looking at the pictures now, I realize that they are an expression of my faith as an artist in the power of form to resolve conflict.