An installation at the University of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie by British land artist Chris Drury has heated up the debate over coal in that state http://uwartmuseum.blogspot.com/2011/07/land-artist-chris-drury-begins.html. Carbon Sink: What Goes Around Comes Around, is 36 feet in diameter, took three weeks to create and at its center features logs from trees killed by beetles, surrounded by lumps of coal. Drury had learned from students and faculty in the fall of 2010 about mountain pine beetles that have infested and killed more than 100 million acres of forest in Wyoming and other mountain states in the last decade. Scientists attribute
the infestation to the warming of the planet, which has reduced the frequency of the well-below-zero temperatures that would otherwise kill the insects. Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are a major cause of rising temperatures; a primary contributor to greenhouse gases is the burning of coal. Two state legislators from coal-centric Campbell County were not impressed by Drury’s work. According to the Green blog of The New York Times, Representatives Tom Lubnau and Gregg Blikre, Republicans from Gillette, wrote to the University of Wyoming to complain about the sculpture, Lubnau telling a local newspaper, “…every now and then you have to use these opportunities to educate some of the folks at the University of Wyoming about where their paychecks come from,” which includes, of course, tax revenues from coal and other energy industries. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/21/coal-themed-sculpture-annoys-lawmakers “I just wanted to make that
connection between the burning of coal and the dying of trees,” says Drury. “But I also wanted to make a very beautiful object that pulls you in, as it were.” The work “has certainly generated a big debate,” he says, “which is good.” To see Drury’s photos of the work and the West, visit his blog at http://chrisdrury.blogspot.com/2011/07/carbon-stink.html. “Art is free to speak its truth,” he writes there, “and in the case of Carbon Sink all I am trying to do is to make many and multiple complex connections in as striking and beautiful way as I am able.” Watch for an interview with Chris Drury, filmed by the museum it will eventually be posted on its You Tube page at http://www.youtube.com/user/uwartmuseum.