Landscapes of Extraction The Art of Mining in the American West
Landscapes of Extraction explores the art of mining, which completely transformed the American West. These landscapes of enterprise altered the natural environment on a spectacular scale, with open-pit mines, coal tipples, and oil rigs. Yet artists have often found these scenes beautiful, even sublime.
The four scholarly essays presented here explore how artists have portrayed the mining industry in the American West from 1917 to the present day, examining more than eighty historical and contemporary works. The multiple landscapes created by large-scale mining inspired these artworks: the mines themselves, the towns that grew up around them, and the miners and their families who lived and worked there. The industry has shaped communities and landscapes throughout the West: Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. Over time, as public knowledge of mining practices increased, artists became more attuned to the environmental and health impacts of mining. From the late twentieth century onward, mining art became political, with many artists interested in exposing the vexed legacies of the industry.
Landscapes of Extraction reveals how a powerful regional narrative became a fundamental element of national identity, played out on a vast geographical scale.