The Black Land: Photography by Ed Dougert
Ed Dougert grew up in Philadelphia earning degrees in Liberal Arts and Mechanical Engineering from Temple University.
Ed began the Black Land project in 1999 as an interpretation of the anthracite coal industry and its environmental, economic, and social impact. An article dedicated to his work appeared in Schuylkill Living Magazine in 2002. His photo essay The Black Land documenting the decimated coal industry was published in 2003. His photographs appeared in the book The Face of Decline in 2005 to illustrate the impact of mining’s legacy. His growing list of exhibitions included a large solo show at the Burrison Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania along with participating in a three man show at The Photography Place in Doylestown, PA. He has also lectured and offered slide presentations in Pottsville and at Project Basho in Philadelphia. His work is collected both privately and for display in businesses across the coal region.
The Black Land photographs are produced using black and white film and printed with traditional techniques using darkroom and chemistry.
The Pennsylvania anthracite coal region is unique in that a single industry, whose peak is long past, has left its mark on the land, the culture, the economy, and the ecology. Since 1999, I have been constructing a photographic essay of the remnants of the coal industry in Northeastern PA. I have tried to illustrate the graphic beauty of the coal region while interpreting its complex and emotional history with its many chapters of social, economic, and environmental issues. My pictures try to convey the emotion that under lies this area’s past.
I began photographing the Pennsylvania coal region as a way to understand what happened there. To stand on the sites you research and feel the history is a unique experience. I hope that a full immersion into this topic allowed me to produce images infused with some of the emotion found at these places.
In addressing this project of recording these coal mining sites as they exist presently, I combine documentation and interpretation. I am recording the fast disappearing industrial history but also trying to offer pleasing photographs which concentrate on a detail to illustrate a larger piece of the story. Using traditional darkroom techniques and black and white film, the final work is prints from 8 inches square to 11 inches square in size, professionally mounted and framed.