'The pictures here represent fourteen years of visiting and photographing Appalachian coal miners, their families, and neighbors. This book allows me to share my personal vision of these people and their environment, hidden from most of the nation in small towns and villages, tucked away in the hollows of the steep mountains and rolling hills of West Virginia, Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania'. With compassion and sensitivity, Builder Levy presents the coal mining communities of Appalachia. His compelling images, in 93 duotones, portray a once-beautiful region that has been increasingly scarred by an industry that has never demonstrated respect for the land or its people. For several decades the U.S. coal mining industry has been in a period of transition: technological advances have created massive layoffs; women have entered the workforce; the racial composition of mining communities has changed; and, environmental and health advocates have gained voice.
The narrative accompanying Levy's photographs details these social and economic changes as revealed through the lives of people who endure the poverty and hardship of mining life, who cling to their family and community amid crises, and who are sustained by their traditions and their culture. The photos themselves reveal the toll that this struggle has taken. While memories of mine disasters and the daily threat of danger and black lung disease remain throughout these communities, Levy focuses on the dignity of the residents and their struggle against adverse conditions. Levy describes the sometimes mixed reception he received from miners, foremen, and company guards at various mining sites. By 'reading' the images, one senses that he did not simply gain access to witness but fully participated in the daily 'mantrips', the comfortable hospitality, the unity of miners surfacing after a long day underground. "Images of Appalachian Coalfields" forces the reader to confront the life of a mining community, to recognize the faces of struggle, camaraderie, defiance, endurance, and to admire the intense vision of a photographer whose love of subject pays homage to the human spirit.
Builder Levy is a teacher in a New York City alternative high school. His photographs have been exhibited in museums and galleries, and included in permanent collections and numerous publications throughout the world.
Publisher: Temple University Press,U.S.
Number of pages: 144
Weight: 680 g
Dimensions: 260 x 210 x 16 mm