Coal Country

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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, for myself, 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.