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Nature Transformed: Edward Burtynsky’s Vermont Quarry Photographs in Context

Hood Museum of Art
Hanover, New Hampshire
April 1–August 19, 2012

In the 1990s, Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky began to document what he called “the reverse of the skyscraper.” He found in the verdant Vermont landscape the massive open wounds left where deposits of fine granites and marbles had been quarried by generations of immigrant workers. The result of their efforts —  dimensional stone — helped to define our culture’s quest to create timeless architecture and monuments.

Burtynsky is known for using photography, often images of startling juxtapositions and excess, to comment on the relationship between human industry and the environment. The large-scale, gorgeous color prints currently on view at the Hood Museum of Art include seven never shown before. They immerse the viewer viscerally in the extreme beauty and violence of quarrying. The photographs also lead us to meditate on the local human and economic implications of the lapse of this industry in rural Vermont and the fact that it is less expensive to purchase imported stone at Home Depot than to support our local economies. We are left to contemplate our relationship to the working landscape, its wonderful and terrible beauty, and how it endures, even as we finally begin to question that truth and our role in it as architects and consumers.

This exhibition will also be on display at the Middlebury College Museum of Art in Middlebury, Vermont, February 8–April 21, 2013.