Artist Jean Arnold has kindly given us permission to share art works from her collection, Extraction, with you. These paintings depict the strange new landscapes created by vast mining operations around the world.
These are paintings of landscapes destroyed by multinational corporations for the ores contained within the rock: copper, gold, silver, iron, coal, and now, lithium. The painting above is of a copper mine in Utah, but I chose it for the post because lithium is a soft, silvery-white metal that often gives the rock in which it is found a grayish white color.
In her artist statement about Extraction, Jean writes:
Mining is a defining activity of civilization. Our eras of extraction — the Stone Age, the Copper Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, and now the Fossil Fuel Age — demarcate humanity’s own “progress”. These materials we extract from the earth – metals, pigments, construction materials, gemstones, and fossil fuels – are consumed by our culture and become the “earth-blood” that runs in our veins, defining us as a species.
She notes that few of us ever see the places destroyed by mines. I think that must be true, because otherwise, how could anyone advocate for more mining to build the next generation of energy and transportation if they had seen these wounds in the Earth in person? Perhaps those who believe that more cars, more batteries, more grid lines, more industry, more of everything will save the world simply have no idea where all that “stuff” comes from because they’ve never bothered to look.
I hope Jean’s work will inspire you to go and see a real mine one day: a giant gaping wound in the Earth, bleeding lithium or copper or silver or gold; mountains of blasted rock from what used to be intact mountain habitat; lakes of toxic tailings from what used to be ancient pristine ground water. Know when you gaze upon the destruction that this is what our modern world is made of. The skin and bones and flesh of the Earth ripped from her guts by huge machinery spewing diesel fumes and radiation with every gouge.
Will humanity’s present trajectory annihilate life and consciousness on this planet, or can we transform towards a beneficial co-existence with other species?
That is the question.
To see more of the paintings and paperworks in Jean’s Extraction collection, visit her website: https://www.jeanarnold.com. Gratitude to Jean for sharing her work with Protect Thacker Pass.