I’m getting out here a little later than I was aiming for and now the summer heat is awake too. I’ll take my precautions and take it easy under the shade of the willow trees. There’s been another fire on the margins of this immense driftwood pile. My guess is a hot cigarette butt flicked casually away landed on tinder and poof! The wind probably did not encourage the flames this time. It looks like it either went out on its own or firefighters were successful in quickly containing it. This area under the railroad bridge still smells a little smokey.
In many ways this post is an extension of the last one…minus the ropes. I guess I’m guilty of multitasking out here. I often have more than one project going on at a time. For example, I have a series of coal related investigations I have been doing that provide some relief from the Styrofoam. Some of these projects might make it into a coal-themed art show I’m participating in at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see what the other artists come up with. Last year we traveled together to see and talk with people whose lives were touched by their contact with coal. Of course the issue of mountaintop removal was in the fore front. Although I’m interested in the many controversies that cling to coal…I’ve also enjoyed working with it as a potential art material. The coal that washes up at the Falls of the Ohio comes from the commercial barge traffic floating small mountains of crushed coal to the various hydroelectric plants along a channelized Ohio River. Apparently, the river’s current is strong enough to move these stones along and shape them. And like Styrofoam, coal can be tumbled smooth and round in the process before it reaches me at the Falls of the Ohio. I have found pieces as round as a chickens’ eggs and as flat as coins.
I’ve been collecting the coal I come across and looking for areas by the river that have more deposited on the sand. First, I started with a few star shapes, but a remembered conversation I had with a friend created a different connection that I drew inspiration from. My friend lived as a child in a small town in Pennsylvania associated with the steel industry. He recalled that in winter, the whiteness of fresh snow would soon become gray and black due to air borne coal ash and particulates. It was everywhere and got into everything. That’s when I hit upon the idea of making snow flake-like designs from coal and photographing them. Here are a few more from this series.
I’ve been placing these near well-worn paths that fishermen take to the water’s edge. They call into attention and work with the small areas they occupy and provide visual interest. I like that they have this public participatory aspect to them. Here are a few more sample images of the coal flakes before they “melted” back into the sand.
The white flecks in the sand are bits and pieces of ground-up mussel shells. They mostly come from one foreign species that can out compete the local clams and deal with the present conditions. Also mixed into this sandy matrix are pieces of river polished glass and small bits of plastic. Here’s another project involving coal and Asiatic clam shells and a found coffee creamer jar.
I’ll conclude with two star images that were made along with the coal flakes. The first one looks a bit like a starfish fossil…
…and this last is just simply a star! It’s getting too hot to hang out and so I pack up and leave after a few hours fun. That shower is going to feel good today. Have a great week everybody!