Between the Ground & Sky
My photographic work for the past 2 years has been centered on the changing landscape of the Danby Marble Quarry in Dorset Mountain, Vermont. The Danby Quarry has been in use since the 18th century, it is over a mile long, has a footprint of twenty-five acres and is 1½ mile deep. It is the largest underground marble quarry in the world.
I began photographing the marble curious about its use but eventually became charmed by the physical history carved into the space. The heavy unyielding material takes a geometric form inside a huge organic landscape. I am fascinated by the constant metamorphosis of the space. Etched, carved and broken apart Danby Mountain is a record of time. The physical markings inside the mountain created by the both the original method and the current method of quarrying is at the center of my interest due to its impact on the nature of the mountain. From the beginning of quarrying there to today the technology has vastly changed and is visible inside the walls of the quarry. In the shallowest depths the quarry reveals the chaos of past axe quarrying in the ceiling, showing every stroke each man took while the more recently excavated spaces reveal the control of diamond rope cutting into precise geometric cubes. Each method has left an indelible impression on the mountain by destroying its natural state and creating a geometric and ordered new landscape. These are the qualities that I find both interesting and intriguing. I am fascinated by it’s now formal beauty.
My photographs of Dorset Mountain undulate between buried underground, immersed in darkness to being elevated into the sky and mountains, overcome by light. The sense of where you are is confused by ever changing planes of focus. The ground and ceiling, up and down, become indistinguishable. I photograph little to indicate scale, rather creating a world where a mountain can be a pebble, a crevice can be a valley and a stone can be a grave. Through photographic examination I hope to reveal the captivating landscape of this place while evoking a sense of its history and question how it will continue to change in the future.
I began my work at Dorset Mountain but am in the process of moving both south and north along the Vermont marble trail that spans from Bennington to Montpelier and Swanton VT. I am also in the process of photographing where the excavated marble ended up and what it was ultimately used for. Largely, it has been used for gravestones and it is still currently being used for those of American Veterans. The photographs are made using a 4x5 camera on film, then scanned and printed as archival inkjet prints.
Over the past 4 years of living in New England I have become mesmerized by the vastness of the landscape here and the history that Dorset Mountain bears on its walls. It is this physical document of time pressed into the landscape that I find most fascinating.