Kawishiwi River Statement

The Midwest is presently a battleground for resources. Fracking, oil pipelines, mining, and drilling are just some of the expanding industries in this region. In states like Minnesota where the rugged beauty of the land is part of the state’s identity, these new industries create strong conflicts between environmental and industrial stakeholders. In northern Minnesota, the Duluth Complex is a geological formation bordering the Mesabi Iron Range and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It contains one of the largest untapped copper-nickel deposits in the world. Industry representatives estimate that the new sulfide mining district could eventually exceed Minnesota’s iron ore industry in size. The issue of whether or not to establish sulfide mines so close to a protected wilderness known for its pristine water is a passionately debated topic on the Iron Range.

The Kawishiwi River flows over the Duluth Complex, and is at the center of the region in contention as mining companies are in the process of obtaining permits and conducting environmental impact studies in order to mine the area for copper, nickel and other precious metals. The Kawishiwi River series is a collection of copper drawn land portraits. These land portraits record a history of landmarks and sacred spaces based on traditional legends, government treaties, current disputes, and future visions. My intention is to create continuity where great changes have occurred in the landscape or are likely to occur in the future. Each portrait merges an image of the landscape with a symbol or object from the landscape.This catalog of imagery is meant to heighten public awareness about how the future of the Kawishiwi River will take shape, while simultaneously preserving its identity in the past.