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Mining the Past

I'm spending a few days in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, while Patty runs a writing workshop at the arts center here. This was the center of a thriving lead and zinc mining industry in the nineteenth century, and yesterday I walked along a trail over the high bluff that overlooks the town to see the old mine workings:



The grates are placed over the mineshafts, which were only wide enough to lower and raise one man at a time, and one wheeled iron container at a time. But these are the original winches and bins:


As I've said many times on this blog, my work in the past few years has dealt with my own childhood, including the time that my mother, brother and I all lived in the house of my grandfather, who was a miner. So I always feel an affinity with this sort of thing, even though the course of my life has been conducted as far away from manual labour as one can possibly get. Even the abstract looking pictures I've been making recently derive from memories of coal and coal mountains near the collieries. So it's possible that some of the machines in the pictures above might find their way into my work some time, too.

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