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Indepth Arts News:

"Ken Light: Coal Hollow"
2005-12-09 until 2006-02-26
International Center of Photography
New York, NY, USA United States of America

Social documentary photographer Ken Light’s stark and moving black-and-white photographs will be on view at the International Center of Photography (1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street) from December 9, 2005 through February 26, 2006. Ken Light: Coal Hollow is a collection of twenty photographs taken by the photographer over three years, from 1999 through 2002, which expose the social consequences of the deterioration of the once booming coal mining business in West Virginia, the poorest state in the nation.

Light shows how the erosion of the coal mining industry has devastated individual lives and families in the close-knit communities of rural West Virginia. Where generations of coal miners once made their livelihood off the plentiful supply of coal their mountains produce, machines are now replacing manpower, and communities are struggling to maintain their culture and heritage. The collapse of the coal industry has left in its wake poverty, unemployment, drug use, and mine-related diseases. Among other things, this environment has proven to be fertile ground for a resurgence of Ku Klux Klan activity.

The Bronx-born Light (b. 1951) has spent much of his photographic career working in a black-andwhite documentary mode, with the hope that photographic evidence will make a political difference. He is the author of five monographs including “Texas Death Row” (1997), “Delta Time” (1995), “To the Promised Land” (1988), “With These Hands” (1986), and “In the Fields” (1982), and has edited “Witness in Our Time: Working Lives of Documentary Photographers” (2000), which features twenty-two interviews with fellow photojournalists.

Light has received two National Endowment for the Arts Photographers Fellowships, the Dorothea Lange Fellowship and a fellowship from the Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation. He is currently Adjunct Professor and Director of the Center for Photography at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California Berkeley, and is a founder of the International Fund for Documentary Photography.

IMAGE
Ken Light, James and his brother JR, three and five years old,
Thacker Creek Hollow, West Virginia, 1999,
International Center of Photography,
gift of Stanley and Dorothea Light, 2001


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