I am interested in the spaces that mining companies leave behind, spaces that look forgotten to an outsider but that are used and appreciated by local residents. Making trails through abandoned sites and swimming at the mine lakes, residents embrace the discarded mines both as a familiar landscape for recreation and as a cherished artifact of growing up in the Iron Range mining economy and culture. Memories are triggered by symbols and there are few symbols more powerful than the jagged craters and the red dirt of the iron mines. My drawings often focus on the story contained in the abandoned, iconic landmarks and the raw, broken machinery of the mines.
Iron Range mines are relatively new to the world, many of them less than 100 years old. In geological years that is a hiccup. Nonetheless, the mines resemble deep canyons, ancient in their character if not in their age. Rusting pieces of equipment look like artifacts, timeworn and broken down. The mines are also monumental. They represent a scale of disruption on the earth that is unprecedented. The simple and monotonous act of uncovering resources exerts an irrepressible pull on the region. Landscape and machinery become symbols from the sheer scale of mining’s impact. Iron ore is both material and myth.