My work is inspired by my relationship with coal. I spent my childhood on a cattle ranch in Montana’s Powder River Basin, which is the most productive coal mining region in the country. Growing up I was intrigued by the contrast between the pristine, wild nature of the ranchland and the sculpted, manipulated nature of the strip mines.
In 2014 a mining company was proposing to build a massive new strip mine near my family’s ranch. 90 miles of new railroad were to be built over fertile, family-owned farmland to service this new mine. My father and I followed the entire proposed route of the railroad on a horsepacking expedition, witnessing the landscape and discussing the potential development with communities along the way. The work I am making is a reaction to my experiences with coal from my childhood and this horsepacking expedition.