Shortly after I moved with my family to West Virginia, an explosion occurred at the Sago coal mine in Upshur County, West Virginia, killing 12 miners. This was followed by a fire that killed two miners in the Aracoma Alma Mine in Logan County. The news of these deadly accidents brought me face to face with where I was living; I was in the middle of Appalachian coal country.
Having made life-size, full length portraits for a number of years, when I moved to West Virginia, I wanted to know more about these miners; I wanted to photograph them. While I haven’t been at it long, I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to meet these people and learn more about their lives and their work. I have come to regard coal miners as American heroes, engaged in dangerous work to supply us with energy, that precious geopolitical commodity recently thrust to the forefront of American consciousness.
It’s been particularly revealing that so many of the miners, and most of them are men, ask me if they can be photographed with their children.
Artist's website is www.ThorneyLieberman.com